Perhaps because my mom would notoriously make such a huge batch of chili that we were eating leftovers for a week solid, I rarely make some myself. But I suppose it’s just because there are simply lots of other stews that I would rather make and eat. I’m not a huge spicy fan, and I prefer earthy cumin in different settings. The addition of butternut squash in this recipe, however, is the precise antidote to my chili indifference. It adds a nice sweetness and smooth texture and almost makes me forget that I’m eating chili. And the fact that I omitted the beans might have something to do with that too…
If you were to change this recipe at all, you could substitute the meat for any other ground meat you might have. I had buffalo in the freezer, so that’s why I used it. The original recipe called for pumpkin puree, so use a can of that if you have it. It would certainly increase the ease of the recipe. And definitely feel free to play around with the spices. Add more chili powder or cayenne if you like it spicy.
Buffalo and Butternut Squash Chili
adapted from Whole Foods
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
2 jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound ground buffalo
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (1 pound) butternut squash
1 cup broth
1 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste
extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
avocado, sour cream, and cilantro for optional garnishing
1. Preheat your oven to 425. Slice the squash in half width wise, and then again on both halves lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. Place the squash cut-side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, or until tender.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large stew pot over medium heat. Add the onion, pepper, jalapeños, and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir frequently.
3. Add the meat and cook, stirring, until browned.
4. Scoop out the flesh of the squash and add to pot along with tomatoes, broth, and spices. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.
5. When the chili is done, turn on the broiler. Ladle the chili in bowls and sprinkle the cheese on top. Put the bowls under the broiler (it helps to put them on a baking sheet for easy removal) for several minutes, until the cheese is browned.
6. Serve with avocado on top. Sour cream and cilantro would work nicely too.