Monday, January 28, 2013

Acorn Squash, Beet, and Sweet Potato Chili: One Beginning, Two Endings (Bean-Free Chili for Vegans or with Beef for Carnivores)

http://www.farmfreshfeasts.com/2013/01/acorn-squash-beet-and-sweet-potato.html

http://www.farmfreshfeasts.com/2013/01/acorn-squash-beet-and-sweet-potato.html
Could be vegan chili on the left, chili for carnivores on the right.
One of the pots of chili you see here was what I set out to make.  The other one was the surprise mid-way through.

You see, it all started when I had a bite of my spouse's chili at Tom+Chee in Newport, KY.  It was smooth, meaty, and topped with a bit of blue cheese.  Yum!  I love that restaurant.

I like my Green Tomato Garlic Chili, and I like all the chunky and bean-y chili I have had.  In fact, I don't think I've met a chili I didn't like.  But I wanted to try my hand at making a smooth, meaty chili.

No chunks (the kids tolerate smooth better than chunky anyway) and no beans (thanks to New Year's day and a vat of Ham and Bean soup I'd had beans 8 out of 9 days of 2013 and frankly I needed a break).  What does that leave?  The Strategic Winter Squash Reserve, of course.

http://www.farmfreshfeasts.com/2013/01/acorn-squash-beet-and-sweet-potato.html


I started by roasting a small 1 pound acorn squash and a small sweet potato.  I was making a small batch, because after the giant vat of soup I really didn't want gallons of chili leftovers.  Then I set those aside and browned a pound of ground beef in my 3 quart saucepan.  I knew I wanted a smooth chili, but I didn't want to attack my beef with the immersion blender, so at this point I drained and set the beef aside.

If I were cooking for vegans as well as carnivores, I would wash the saucepan at this point.
I was just cooking for the family, so I added onions and some of my freezer stash carrots/celery/parsley to the pan (using the remnants of grease instead of oil) and sautéed.  I was thinking about how, when making Indian food, you sauté the spices until they are fragrant before adding the simmering liquids, so I decided to add the spices next.  Annemarie of RealFoodRealDeals made a squash chili and her recipe appeared in my inbox just as I was debating for which spices to use, so I went with her spicing suggestions.  I remembered my cousin Cindy (the cousin Cindy I've friended on FB but never met) telling me she adds beets to her tomato sauce so when I was grabbing a pack of slow-roasted tomatoes from the freezer I picked up a bag of shredded beets, too.  I tossed those in to simmer with the veggies, then I added some stock.  If I were cooking for vegans, I'd use vegetable stock or Penzey's vegetable soup base.  I used chicken stock instead, added a bay leaf, and it simmered away happily for an hour.  Since (did I mention) I wanted a smooth chili, I removed the bay leaf, grabbed my immersion blender and smoothed it all up.

Then I tasted the chili.  Dang, it's pretty good right now!

If you are serving vegans, move some of the chili to a slow cooker or saucepan over low heat to simmer quietly until serving time.  Because it was just us, I added back in most of the beef and simmered the whole lot on low another hour.  Then another hour because my spouse worked late.
The result was a smooth, thick, tomato-ey meaty chili.

http://www.farmfreshfeasts.com/2013/01/acorn-squash-beet-and-sweet-potato.html

http://www.farmfreshfeasts.com/2013/01/acorn-squash-beet-and-sweet-potato.html

Acorn Squash, Beet, and Sweet Potato Chili (with optional Beef for Carnivores)

3/4 pound ground beef (optional--browned and drained)
1 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 cup carrot/celery/parsley, finely chopped
1 large clove roasted garlic, smushed (here's how I put up my garlic harvest)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 cup shredded beets
1 cup roasted acorn squash
1/2 cup roasted sweet potato
1 bay leaf
3 cups (24 oz, 720 ml) slow-roasted tomatoes (or crushed canned tomatoes if you don't have any)
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock

Preheat a large saucepan over medium heat (add oil if you have not browned meat in the pan first).  Sauté the onion, carrot, celery and parsley until softened--about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and spices, stir to combine, and sauté until the spices become fragrant (another 3 minutes).  Add in the rest of the vegetables, bay leaf, tomatoes and stock.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for one hour.  At this point, if you want a smooth chili, carefully blend with an immersion blender.  The vegan chili is done, though you can simmer longer on low, or transfer to a slow cooker on low, until you're ready to serve.  If you're also serving carnivores, add in the cooked ground beef and simmer until heated through.

Serve alongside some cornbread with whatever garnishes float your boat--cilantro, cheddar cheese, sour cream are our favorites.

This post is linked up with the Wednesday Fresh Foods Link Up at Gastronomical Sovereignty and What's Cookin' Wednesday at Buns In My Oven as well as What's In The Box at In Her Chucks, Taste and Tell Thursdays, the FarmGirl Friday Blog FestFoodie Friends Friday.
http://www.farmfreshfeasts.com/2013/01/acorn-squash-beet-and-sweet-potato.html
Simon would like to be included in the photo.  Or the meal. Not sure which.

18 comments:

  1. I am also a lover of all things chili but I have to say, I've never had a chili with beets in it! Such an interesting idea!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Alyssa,
      When beets show up in your farm share box, you become . . . shall we say open to new ideas to get rid of ahem use them in new and interesting ways.
      Thanks!

      Delete
  2. I love all the vegan and carnivore directions; they made ma laugh. And the addition of beets. Now that's impressive! How did the family react to their beet-y goodness. I can see Simon was definitely interested.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Meghan,
      I'm darn lucky to have a family that will tolerate my beet inclusions. However, they really really liked this coming Friday's beet crust pizza, so that may have made up for a beet-y chili that the non-beet lovers (everyone but me) merely tolerated.
      Simon just wanted the shiny coat food drippings from browning the ground beef. Dog's not stupid. He knows who feeds him the meat!
      Thanks!

      Delete
  3. I love that you have directions for both, but I'd have to go with the carnivore's delight here. YUM!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wendy,
      I'm in this weird beet-and-feed-many-types-of-diets mood here on FFF this week.
      Thanks!

      Delete
  4. Hubby almost always makes the chili at our house, but that's a seriously interesting way to use up those beets! I'm going to grow beets this year just so I can try this recipe: http://www.farmgirlfare.com/2007/04/give-beets-chance-caramelized-beets.html#

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jamie,
      Thanks for the recipe link--I've enjoyed many farmgirlfare recipes and look forward to trying this one. Good luck growing beets--I can't wait to see how my soil amendments alter productivity with the new gardening season. The garden's under snow right now, though, so it's a long way off.
      Thanks!

      Delete
  5. Beets in chili! That is a new one for me. :) I just tried beets for the first time last week and now I want to make more recipes with them. This will have to go on my list!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kiersten,
      It's Beet Week (hey, now that's an idea . . . .) well, not really, but I've got not one but 2 beet pizzas coming up in honor of Valentine's day. I love finding new ways to eat beets.

      Thanks!

      Delete
  6. What a unique chili! It looks beautiful and delicious. I'm a vegetarian, so I like how you showed both options.

    Visiting from Farm Girl Blog Fest :)
    Tammy
    ourneckofthewoods.net

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love the beets in the chili!! Thanks for linking up to Taste and Tell Thursdays!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Deborah,
      I wonder if beets are like cilantro--seems some folks just love them, others . . .
      Thanks for hosting!

      Delete
  8. I LOVE chili! Especially this time of year. Can't wait to give it a go..with beef of course :)

    Thanks for sharing and linking up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heather,
      In Hawaii it never got cold enough for chili weather, but something about the midwest just brings out the chili in me.

      Thanks for hosting!

      Delete
  9. G'day! What an interesting flavor combination, true!
    Just finished lunch, but could go for some of this now too!
    Cheers! Joanne
    Viewed as part of Food Friends Friday Chili Party

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Joanne,
      Whatever I get a bunch of in the farm share, that's how the flavor combinations come about. Thanks!

      Delete
  10. This sounds really interesting so we're having it for dinner tonight. I don't have Acorn Squash (not commonly available in NZ) so am using Buttercup Squash instead. Will also substitute the sweet potato with Kumara.

    ReplyDelete