So, I have to admit that pumpkin has never really been my favorite flavor. I’ve both tried and made many different iterations of pumpkin pie. They’re fine, but given the choice I would always take a slice of apple pie or my yearly brandy pecan pie. Last year I even made a pumpkin cheesecake thinking, oh this will surely be the thing that makes me a believer. Nope. Pumpkin spice latte? No – peppermint mocha all the way.
A while back I was thinking about what else one could do with pumpkin and it occurred to me – why not make it savory? The texture and earthiness could play so well with spices and smoke, let’s make it into chili. There’s two big advantages to using pumpkin in chili. For one, it adds richness without having to slow cook for long periods of time. That means we can get luscious thickness right out of the gate. And for the other, we already know it plays well with sweetness, so we can use that to make a truly unique flavor profile. For the protein I use a combination of ground pork and smoked sausage – both great with spice and sweet. Canned beans add bulk while chipotle in adobo gives it a real good kick and adds depth to the taco seasoning. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice bring out the earthiness of the pumpkin. And to enhance the sweetness? Maple syrup. In less than an hour and with minimal prep you get this rich, hearty, complex, spicy chili that just oozes autumnal comfort. Enjoy!
12 oz package smoked sausage (any variety), sliced
1 medium red onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
1 red chili (or any combination of chilis) seeded and diced
1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced
2 chipotles in adobo, sliced
2 tbs adobo sauce from can
3 cloves garlic run through garlic press
2 packets McCormick taco seasoning
2 cinnamon sticks (or 1 tbs ground cinnamon)
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 bay leaves
1 can pumpkin puree
1 can diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 can pinto beans, drained
2 tbs maple syrup
2 cups chicken stock
1 package fresh sage, finely chopped
Kosher salt and black pepper
- Place your pot over medium high heat. Coat bottom with oil (about 1 tbs). Once hot, add in the ground pork with 1 packet of taco seasoning and sauté until browned and completely cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, remove the cooked pork to another bowl and set aside, leaving any grease in the pan. Add the smoked sausage and cook until nicely browned adding more oil if necessary. Move to same bowl as cooked pork.
- Add the onion, peppers, apple, a generous pinch of salt, and the other packet of taco seasoning and sauté until softened, about 5-7 minutes adding more oil if needed.
- Add back in the ground pork along with the garlic, allspice, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, bay leaves, pumpkin puree, fire roasted tomatoes, diced tomatoes, pinto beans, maple syrup, 1 cup of the chicken stock, and a generous pinch of salt. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.
- Once the mixture just begins to boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Add more chicken stock as needed to get to desired thickness.
- When finished, kill the heat, remove the bay leaves and cinnamon sticks and stir in the fresh sage. Let cool 10-15 minutes and taste for seasoning before serving.This recipe goes really well with my Maple Bacon Cornbread
- You can use any taco seasoning you like. Trader Joe's is great, but it's a lot spicier than McCormick, so you'll only need one packet.
- If you have time and want to add another layer of flavor, get a poblano pepper and set it directly on the flame of your range until it's blackened all the way around. Wrap it in plastic wrap and let it sit for about 10 minutes to steam. Remove the plastic and the charred skin will easily peel off. Discard it (leaving some of the charred bits is totally fine), dice it, and throw it in when the rest of the onions and peppers are cooked through.