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You say Chili – I say Chili November 2, 2010

Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, Food, random stuff.
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We live in the suburbs of Rochester, New York.  Rochester is a fine city – I’ve been here for a number of years, and it’s my home.

PhotobucketOne thing, though, that kind of makes me nuts is that sometimes, they pronounce things a little . . . uniquely.  Yeah, that’s it.  I suppose every town has its quirks, and you do get used to it.

For instance, we have one neighborhood that’s named Charlotte.  Not Charlotte as in the spider, or  like the one in North Carolina.  Ours is Char-LOTTE.  Rhymes with “a lot.”

PhotobucketThen there’s Chili.  If it’s in a bowl, you pronounce it “chilly.”  But if it’s on the west side of Rochester, it’s Chili – the “i” is long in both instances, like “eye”: chai-lye.

Over the years, one gets used it.

So after living in this area for as long as I have, is it any wonder that I’m going to want to start playing it a little fast and loose with a pot of chili?  Especially when I’ve got a mess of fresh pumpkin to use up!

PhotobucketSo a couple of weeks ago, I stumbled across this recipe for Pumpkin Chipotle Chili and I thought to myself, “hmmmm, interesting.”  But Peeps, well, he’s not a big pumpkin fan – so this should be perfect – the pumpkin-ness of it would be different enough to tickle me, and a nice hit of chipotle peppers – that should encourage Peeps to give it a try, huh?

So I started the chili the way chili is so often started – I diced, chopped, and/or minced a green pepper, a couple of onions, and a couple of cloves of garlic, then sauteed them in a bit of oil until they were soft (garlic last, please!).  In went about a pound of lean ground beef (ground turkey or even pork loin would work here, too – I happened to have the beef in the Freezer That Will Not End).

(I think the chipotle here is completely optional – if one wanted to use, say, a Tablespoon – or even less – of a mild chili powder, that would be good too, I think.)

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Once the meat was slightly browned, I added about half a small can of tomato paste and stirred that in – I find that a bit of tomato paste added at this point adds an extra dimension of flavor – I do the same thing with stews.

At this point, we also add our spices – I want to release any oil-soluble flavors first, before adding liquids.  So into the onion-pepper-meat-tomato-paste mixture:

  • 2 Tbsp. minced chipotle in adobo (if you’re not a fan of the chipotle, use a Tablespoon of chili powder)  (or you can use both – it’s your chili)
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne (again, optional)
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp. cinnamon (trust me on this)
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper (or to taste)
  • a good sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg – maybe 1/4 teaspoon

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Now, you’re going to want to add the spices, stirring constantly, until they’re fragrant, which will take about 30 seconds.  Go ahead, stick your face in there – you’ll get a snootful!

Next, you’ll add about a quart of whole tomatoes, undrained, kind of mashing the tomatoes  with your spoon as you add them, then about a cup and a half, maybe 2 cups of pumpkin puree and a 4-ounce can of green chiles.

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Now this was the point at which I tasted the chili sauce – it was spicy and interesting – I LOVED the cinnamon!  But still, something was missing.    With all the tomatoes and the chipotles, it was a little . . . harsh.  I added a Tablespoon of brown sugar – perfect!  The sugar took the edge off the acidity, and I often prefer the complexity of brown sugar over white.

 

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Ah, but we all know it’s not chili without beans, right?  Fortunately, I’d picked up some fresh (dried) beans at the market – I’d never had freshly dried beans, and I’ve often wondered if they really were THAT much better than the store-bought dried beans.  I mean, beans are beans right?

I’m just going to say – WOW.  There really is a difference.  I wished I’d cooked all 2 pounds of the beans I bought, rather than just enough – I’d just grab a spoon and eat them!  What we wanted was the equivalent of 1 can of beans (your choice) – I went with a cup and a half of red beans.  (For the record, I recommend cooking the beans fresh whenever you can.  It’s cheaper AND it tastes better!)

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I also added about a cup of frozen corn – we always grill and freeze a couple of gallons of corn during the summer, for purposes just like this!  It’s strange, but as much as we both love corn, we seldom just eat it as corn when it’s not fresh.  But we love it in soups, chowders and, in my case, chili.

Chili is always good the next day, and Sunday is our cooking day, so once it was made, we stashed this in the fridge for later in the week.

Later in the week when I came home and decided that the cinnamon and cumin gave this recipe a Moroccan flavor, so what better bread to serve than pita?

I think there’s a reason they call it PITA, you know?

But regardless, the chili was wonderful – it was rich and thick and almost creamy, with a spiciness that wasn’t overwhelming, and the pumpkin was the perfect supporting player – you really wouldn’t know it was there, except that you maybe leave the table feeling just a little healthier.  And full – pumpkin is FILLING!

Comments

1. The Saved Quarter - November 2, 2010

Yay, I’m glad you liked it and loved seeing your variation! I’ll have to try it with brown sugar. Yum!

I liked this chili a lot and would definitely do it again. I suspect it freezes well, too – though we didn’t have enough left over to try it! I think, too, I’d double the beans next time, and definitely add a bit more cinnamon than I did – not a lot, just a little. Thanks so much for the original recipe!

2. When it gets chilly « Dark Side of the Fridge - December 9, 2010

[…] you’ll remember that I made a pumpkin chili a while back, and honestly, it was quite good – and I’d definitely make it again, for […]


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