Pumpkin Chili

This dish combines some of my favorite fall foods: pumpkin and chili.

I write a weekly column for The Joplin Globe, Claremore Daily Progress, and Ottumwa Courier and this week’s theme was pumpkins.

I love everything pumpkin. From pumpkin patches to carving them to eating the orange globes.

That is why I came up with these pumpkin chili, which is filling and delicious.

pumpkin chili crock

My pumpkin chili is a hearty stew that gets a boost of fiber and Vitamin A from the pumpkin. Pumpkin is very healthy and ½ cup contains 50 calories, 3 gram of fiber and 280 percent of your daily Vitamin A needs. You can’t really taste the pumpkin in my recipe, but it bulks it up and gives it a velvety texture. I add a little cinnamon to compliment the pumpkin this dish.

I love using bison instead of beef in this recipe, but it’s more expensive and not as readily available. Bison is healthier than beef and we are big bison fans.

punpkin c

Fall is my favorite time of year and I feast on pumpkin. I actually bought six cans last week. In my recipes, I usually use canned instead of real pumpkin because most people don’t have time to roast and puree a whole pumpkin.

I hope you enjoy it.

Pumpkin Chili

Serves 6-8

2 cups chopped red onion

1 pound ground sirloin or some lean ground beef

2 heaping tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon cumin seed

½ teaspoon garlic salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (or more to taste)

1 (6-ounce) can of tomato paste

1 ½ cups water or chicken broth

1 (14.5-ounce) can of diced tomatoes

1 ¼ cups salsa

2 cloves chopped garlic or 1 tablespoon dehydrated garlic

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree

¼ cup chopped cilantro

1 (15-ounce) can chili beans

*1 (4-ounce) can green chilies (optional)

Shredded cheese, chopped onion, cilantro to garnish

*The green chilies make this dish spicy, so I skip those when serving my family.

Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat and when hot, add onions and beef.  Cook for 3 minutes. Then add chili powder, cumin, garlic salt and cinnamon and cook until ground beef is cooked. If necessary, drain beef before going on (if you use lean beef you won’t have to drain it).

Next, add tomato paste and water and cook for 2 minutes until the paste dissolves into the water. Then add salsa, garlic, pumpkin, cilantro and reduce heat to a simmer for 30 minutes (the longer you simmer, the better the flavor). Add beans and cook 10 minutes before serving.

This chili is even better the next day, but some of the cinnamon flavor will fade because of the strong flavors of garlic, cumin and tomatoes. To combat this, I sprinkle plain cinnamon on a bowl just before serving for more emphasis on the cinnamon (you could also just double it in the recipe, but try the ½ teaspoon first because you don’t want to overwhelm the dish with cinnamon).

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