Squash for Dinner Part 3! Chili!

Pumpkin chili?
I thought of adding some pumpkin as soon as I smelled the maple from the bacon cooking in the stock pot.

That may sound insane but here is my reasoning: I’ve been reading a lot of squash recipes and baking, roasting, pureeing different varieties. Often maple syrup or honey comes up as a flavour combination with squash. One cooking class, I learned to smell what you’re cooking with and see what flavours are invoked in your head. My squash project has added a new flavour profile to my brain, squash and maple. Another flavour combination is the Three Sisters. This is actually a companion planting method of corns, beans, and squash.
The three crops benefit from each other. The maize provides a structure for the beans to climb, eliminating the need for poles. The beans provide the nitrogen to the soil that the other plants utilize, and the squash spreads along the ground, blocking the sunlight, helping prevent establishment of weeds. The squash leaves also act as a “living mulch”, creating a microclimate to retain moisture in the soil, and the prickly hairs of the vine deter pests. Maize lacks the amino acids lysine and tryptophan, which the human body needs to make proteins and niacin, but beans contain both and therefore maize and beans together provide a balanced diet. From Wikipedia, Three Sisters Agriculture.

Well now that I was going to be adding pumpkin in the chili- did I want to hide it? I was tempted to not say anything because “hey honey I made pumpkin chili” isn’t necessarily that enticing, until of course, you’ve tried it.
I let my chili simmer a bit and decided. The pumpkin had such a nice delicate flavour and it was making a nice thick ‘rib-stickin’ saucy chili. I didn’t want to hide it. I wanted to add some more things in here to compliment the pumpkin. So a little orange zest and juice, and some cinnamon ended up rounding out all the flavours in this chili quite nicely. It was quite extraordinary and nothing like any of the chilis I have ever made before. Spicy and slightly sweet, but a savoury sweet where it is savory on the tongue and slightly sweet in the tummy where the orange, pumpkin, beans and chili powder and cinnamon combined nicely to make an incredibly satisfying bite.
pumkin chili 1

A Three Sisters Chili

1 C pumpkin puree
3 C black beans
2 C chickpeas
1 C corn
4 slices bacon
1 28oz can tomatoes
1 C water
1 onion
2 garlic cloves

1 T maple syrup or brown sugar
2 t salt
Black pepper
1/2 orange, lemon, lime

Spices (Make it hotter if you want but these are the amounts I used):
2 t cumin
2 t ancho chili powder
2 t mexican chili powder
dash red pepper flakes
1 t cinnamon

Garnish:
Scallions
cilantro
sour cream

Sweat onions and bacon in a bit of olive oil until onions are soft. Add garlic and chili flakes, stir for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add beans and spices. Stir to coat. Add pumpkin puree. Add tomatoes chopped up in their can and a bit of water ( I used 1 C, you might need more depending on how thick you want your chili). Bring to a boil then simmer. Add some salt. Add the brown sugar, Cinnamon, zest of 1/2 and orange, juice of 1/2 and orange, 1/2 lemon, 1/2 lime. Simmer for 1 -2 hours.

After about an hour, I tasted the chili.At first the orange seemed a bit well, orangey but after simmering it had quieted down a bit.This is where I added the cinnamon, and adjusted any other seasonings, and dumped in a cup of corn. Let it simmer for another 1/2 hour, then serve with chopped cilantro/scallions, sour cream.
We ate this with a nice chunk of cornbread.

pumpkin chili and cornbread

I will credit a few cookbooks for inspiring my pumpkin chili and teaching me the three sisters: Pat Crocker (Preserving, The Canning and Freezing Guide for All Seasons) combines pumpkin chutney, kidney beans, corn, and wraps them in corn tortillas and bakes enchiladas topped with a bit of green taco sauce and sour cream.
Rebar, Modern Food Cookbook makes a three sisters burritos using roasted squash, ancho chili powder, pinto beans and corn, rolls them up in wheat tortillas and bakes them with a mesa red sauce.
Chili just seemed easier.

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4 Comments to “Squash for Dinner Part 3! Chili!”

  1. the delicous opportunties for squash continue and another great dish for maple syrup. Yum me

  2. Oh, this sounds delicious. Since we moved to the midwest I’ve experienced Cincinnati chili (cinnamon and chocolate) so this sounds right up my alley. And I bet my cheddar, bacon, and corn muffins will go great with it. Thanks!

    • Let me make sure I’m reading this right: I need the juice from 1/2 an orange, the juice from 1/2 a lemon, and the juice from 1/2 a lime? Plus the zest from 1/2 an orange? Thanks!

      • Yes, though I should add that I had a relatively small naval orange. I just squeezed out the other half of the orange to see how much juice I got- about 2 Tablespoons. My 1/2 lime equaled 4 teaspoons of juice, I don’t have my half lemon anymore but I’ll guess it yielded about the same as the lime.
        Thanks for pointing that out.
        I guess I better make a vinaigrette now!

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