It is time–time to usher in chili season. The leaves are just now transitioning from summer to fall with gold and red hues. Even today while playing my weekly tennis match, I was distracted in a good way by the stunning yellow leaves of the locust trees in the park. It’s a beautiful time of year. The temperatures are dropping a bit here in Boise, which means soups and stews and chili are on the horizon. I see the distinct colors of fall carried over into the canvas of this chili recipe. It’s nature, whole and unrefined.
I came across a recipe in a Cooking Light article featuring the use of winter squash. I’d not used butternut squash in chili before, and since butternut squash is so wonderful, mellow and nutritious, I thought I’d create one for our cooking class this week. I revised and simplified the Cooking Light recipe and it turned out great. I loved it. I prepared several chili recipes in class and admittedly most everyone loved the White Chicken Chili the best (which isn’t really fair since that one is AMAZING), but this one garnered many first place votes. So don’t be afraid. It’s full of wholesome vegetables, red kidney beans, carrots, bell peppers and garlic in addition to the squash. It’s rustic and hearty. Reach outside the box and I think you’ll be pleasantly pleased to realize that this one just might become a repeater in the family favorites list.
I use cut up stew meat which saves time and money, but it means you cook it for at least two hours in order to soften the meat. If you want to use your slow cooker then brown the meat first, then combine all ingredients together in the slow cooker except the butternut squash and carrot. Cook on high for four hours. At about one hour before serving, add these last two ingredients so they have time to soften. The seasonings/spices in this recipe are true to most chili recipes but I like the unique use of cinnamon, even though it’s fairly detectable. Chili recipes share a lot of things in common like bell peppers, onions, garlic and beans, but for some reason this recipe feels more like stew than chili thanks to the use of stew meat. Either way this recipe is perfectly suited to the beautiful fall and chilly winter months ahead.
One Year Ago: Tuscan Style Turkey Sausage, White Bean and Kale Soup
- Beef and Butternut Squash Chili
- 1 Tbsp canola oil, divided
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 3/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 2/3 cup beef broth
- 1 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 Tbsp cumin
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, undrained and chopped
- 1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
- 1 cup coarsely chopped carrot
- 1/2 cup light sour cream
- 3 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- Heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil; swirl. Sprinkle beef with salt. Add beef to pot; sauté 8 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove beef.
- Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil to pot. Add onion and bell pepper; sauté 3 minutes. Add garlic and tomato paste; sauté 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add beef broth; bring to a boil, scraping pan. Cook 2 minutes. Return beef to pan.
- Stir in chili powder, cumin, oregano, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, chopped tomatoes and kidney beans; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer gently for 1 hour. Add butternut squash and carrot; simmer for 1 hour or until beef and vegetables are tender.
- Ladle 1 cup chili into each of 8 bowls, and top each with 1 tablespoon sour cream and 1 teaspoon cilantro.
For Slow Cooker: Brown salted beef in heated oil until browned on all sides. Add to slow cooker along with all ingredients except butternut squash and carrots. Cook on HIGH for 4 hours. One hour before serving, add butternut squash and carrots and allow to cook and soften for one additional hour.
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