Chili with Acorn Squash
The snow is finally here. I’ve been experimenting with chili this winter with snow days in mind. I like my chili with lots of meat and no beans, but I just haven’t found the perfect combination of ingredients. They have all been good, but not outstanding. This one really sounded interesting and is now my favorite. The recipe only makes four servings so double it if you’re serving a crowd or want left-overs. This is not your typical chili which can taste like tomato soup with beans and hamburger added. The flavors are both bold and subtle and you will not find a tomato or bean in any form, not even tomato paste.
I would never have thought to add acorn squash to chili, but it adds a slightly sweet taste and the texture works well with the beef chunks. I haven’t worked with dried chiles before, so this was an adventure. I found them with the garlic and dried mushrooms. Ancho and pasilla chiles are so much bigger than other chiles I’ve seen. You first heat them in a dry skillet. The heat softens them a bit. Then you place them in a bowl of boiling water and let them soak for half an hour. They come out soft and easy to work with. You just remove the seeds and stems and process them with chicken broth to make the sauce for your chili. Mine came in a bag with several chilies, so now I need to either make more chili or find some other ways to use these peppers. While they added a little bite to the chili, mine was not spicy.
The recipe called for much shorter cooking times, but my squash wasn’t done so I have adjusted the times to what worked for me. Just test the squash periodically. It should be slightly firm and not mushy. Don’t leave off the toasted pumpkin seeds, the salty crunch was just perfect on top. I think you will find the extra step of softening the peppers worth it in this very non-traditional chili.
Bon Appetit November 2014
- 1 dried ancho chile
- 1 dried pasilla chile
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 2 tablespoon olive oil up to 3 tbsp
- 1 pound chuck roast cut into ½ inch pieces
- salt and pepper
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 12 ounces lager
- ½ acorn squash peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- raw pumpkin seeds
- Toast chiles in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, turning occasionally and pressing down to help them make contact with the pan, until darkened in color and beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl with 2 cups boiling water. Let sit for 30 minutes to soften. Drain, remove seeds and stems. Place in blender with the chicken broth and puree until smooth. Set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy pot over medium high. Season beef with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned all over, about 5 minutes. Continue to cook until liquid has evaporated, about 3 more minutes. Transfer to a plate.
- In the same skillet, add 1 tablespoon oil and cook onions and garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook until softened, stirring often. Add cumin and oregano and cook for another minute.
- Add beef and beer to the pot with the onions. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until almost completely reduced. Add chili puree, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is slightly thickened and the meat is tender, 20-25 minutes. Add squash and cover. Cook until the squash is tender, 20-30 minutes.
- While the chili is cooking, toast pumpkin seeds sprinkled with olive oil and salt. Serve chili with pumpkin seeds and avocado.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- Bon Appetit December 2014