Crisp but sunny fall days continue to extend outdoor fall enjoyment and chili weather has set in! On a recent Sunday with our maple tree ablaze in its autumn coat I made a big pot of chili and served it, buffet style, right from the pot, outside. There is just something about crowd pleasing, one dish meals that say fall. This soulful white chili offers an interesting combination of both cubed pumpkin (or squash) and puréed pumpkin. It is chock full of tasty bits of smokey ground chicken sausage and nice chunks of pumpkin. When shopping for a pumpkin to make this dish, I got distracted and seduced by a gorgeous red Kuri Squash, also known as Japanese squash or potimarron and had to take it home. So instead of a pumpkin white bean chili, this chili got a new name! I made it stove top but it could easily be made in a crock pot. Adding a selection of toppings for each person to customize their chili and serving it with warm cornbread elevates this tasty chili into company worthy fare. It can be made a day or two in advance and reheated. A warming one-dish meal for festive, casual gatherings this fall.
SMOKEY WHITE BEAN-RED KURI SQUASH CHILI
2 onions, chopped
2 yellow, red or orange peppers, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
4 c of cubed pumpkin or squash such as red kuri or butternut
16 oz chicken sausage, casings removed
15 oz can diced tomatoes
15 oz can crushed tomatoes
15 oz can puréed pumpkin
15 oz can chickpeas, drained
15 oz can cannellini beans, drained
1 T liquid smoke
2 T chili spice
1 t ground cumin
salt to taste
1/2 t cayenne pepper
2 T molasses
Toppings: lime wedges, shredded cheese, sour cream or yogurt, sliced scallions, toasted pumpkin seeds, tortilla chips, sliced black olives, guacamole or sliced avocado, hot pepper flakes and chopped cilantro are only a few of the possible toppings to offer.
In a tall pot, brown the sausage and onions together, breaking up the sausage as it cooks, about 5 minutes. Add the peppers and garlic and cook another 3 minutes. Toss in the squash or pumpkin and cook another 3 minutes to brown. Add all the spices and stir through.
Add the tomatoes, canned pumpkin purée, molasses and beans and heat, with the lid on, for an hour, stirring occasionally.
Serve in deep bowls with a selection of toppings and warm molasses corn bread.
MOLASSES CORN BREAD
1 c yellow corn meal
1 c flour
2 t baking powder
1 t ground cumin
1/2 t salt
2 large eggs, beaten
4 T butter, melted
1 c buttermilk
2 T molasses
Preheat oven to 425F. Butter an 9 inch square pan.
Combine the dry ingredients. In another bowl, beat the eggs, milk, molasses and buttermilk. Add to the dry ingredients and mix only until combined. Pour into pan and bake for 20 minutes. Cool slightly and cut into 9 pieces and serve alongside the chili. This cornbread will have a brownish-gold color but its sweetness nicely complements the smokey chili.
Wishing you cozy fall gatherings with friends and family as autumn offers up nature’s grand finale of color.