Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cold Weather Pumpkin Chili

     For anyone who knows anything about our hometown (Morton, IL), the idea of pumpkin chili shouldn't be all that shocking.  After all, Morton is the 'pumpkin capital of the world' and during the annual Pumpkin Festival all kinds of delicious foods are available with pumpkin as an ingredient, including pumpkin chili.  We recently had a benefit soup/chili supper at church and we wanted to do something a bit unique.  While the chili at the Pumpkin Festival doesn't (in my memory) have much (if any) 'pumpkin pie' character, I wanted to create a recipe that incorporated some of these flavors, albeit in low amounts, to a more traditional chili recipe. 

       -2 lbs lean ground beef, fried and drained                               
       -2 (30 oz.) cans HyVee chili beans in chili gravy                   
       -1 large yellow onion, chopped fairly fine
       -1 (15 oz.) can HyVee 100% natural pumpkin
       -2 (28 oz.) cans HyVee diced tomatoes, drained
       -5 tablespoons chili powder
       -1 tablespoon crushed garlic
       -1/2 tablespoon salt
       -1/2 tablespoon pepper
       -1/2 tablespoon Tone's pumpkin pie spice

       Brown the beef in a skillet (or, as we did, a heavy, stainless-steel stockpot, so you don't have to dirty a frying pan as well) and drain if needed.  Add all other ingredients, mix thoroughly, and put on a low simmer for an hour or two.  At this point, we found the chili to be extremely mild: flavorful, but with very little heat and no real 'pie spice' flavor.  The following day, we reheated this slowly in a large Crock Pot and, when we served it, it had a pleasant, moderate heat, and a noticeable (but fairly mellow) touch of pie spice on the finish.  Overall, this makes for a really nice cold-weather chili with something just a bit different.  It's not something I would want to eat for several days in a row, but it's unique and definitely worth a try.  For what it's worth, when we make this again, we'll likely give it a day to flavor through (like we did this time) before serving.  Sprinkle a bit of sharp cheddar on top, and enjoy!

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