Monday, November 11, 2013

Pumpkin Chili and the Great Football Rib Adventure

Chili: the "it has a great personality" of foods
Perhaps I wanted to keep the pumpkin winning streak going following Pumpkin Cookie Cake and Pumpkin Chai Muffins, or perhaps I was jonesing for a fix after Starbucks' annual inexplicable post-Halloween removal of pumpkin spice lattes (It should be considered a crime against humanity, dammit!). Either way, when Sacha invited people over for some Sunday football, I knew I wanted to find a way to incorporate pumpkin. Since manly men hitting each other repeatedly is not really a desserty affair (although, I like to think it was the original failed pitch of Cupcake Wars), I decided I had to find a way to combine it with hearty meat. This pumpkin chili was the perfect call for a lazy "autumn" day (yeah, we don't really have seasons here in Houston). 

Pumpkin Chili
Adapted from All Recipes
Servings: 8-10
Time: 2+ hours
Even Owlie got in on the pumpkin fun. Not pictured: the mess he made on my table after drinking a beer his size.

Your kitchen will already smell good at this point
1 bottle pumpkin beer (I used Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin)
2 lbs ground beef
Olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1  1/2 green bell peppers, diced
2-3 jalapenos, minced and seeded
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 15 oz cans kidney beans, drained
1 28 oz can peeled and dice tomatoes in juices
20 oz tomato juice (about half a big can)
15 oz canned pureed pumpkin
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
1/4 cup white sugar
Salt to taste
Sriracha to taste
Glorious, heaping amounts of football

Getting there but still needs some more reducing

  1. Brown the beef in a large pot with a few ounces of pumpkin beer.
  2. At the same time, sauté the onion, green bell pepper, jalapenos and garlic in a small amount of olive oil and a few more ounces of the beer. Let cook until the onions become translucent and the veggies become fragrant.
  3. Drain the beef and add the veggies into the large pot. 
  4. Mix in the drained kidney beans, tomato juice, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, chili powder, sugar and remaining beer.
  5. Let simmer for 1-2 hours until well reduced (you want chunky not overly soupy). Season with salt and sriracha to your liking.
  6. Scoop into a bowl and top with awesomely crunchy Fritos. 
  7. Enjoy with large amounts of football, beer, ribs and lounging.
Now properly chunkilicious and ready for football
This recipe had me more frightened than most. The original recipe seemed like it would be far too bland and did not seem to emphasize the pumpkin nearly enough, so I improvised. I upped the amount of pumpkin and cooked everything in pumpkin beer to hammer home everyone's favorite human head sized vegetable (Be careful what pumpkin beer you choose. I recommend using a more subdued one that isn't overly spiced). Something had to balance the smooth pumpkin, so I threw in chili standard jalapenos, which were conspicuously absent from the initial recipe, and added some always welcome sriracha to give just the right amount of heat. The result was an incredibly memorable dish that just screamed fall. It was perfect comfort food for a lazy weekend that filled stomachs with happiness and made our eyelids feel properly heavy.

I guess the chili was a hit...
The day did not end with pumpkin chili. Football fans also stuffed themselves silly with two kinds of guac (including my take) and salsa. Most importantly though, they got to eat Sacha's amazing ribs (which were so good they deserved their own sentence) to help them ease the pain of another Texans' loss (everyone should just come to their senses and be a Saints fan).
Carefully crafted and adapted from the Legendary Laura the RA recipe. Her guac was the first time I knew what love was.
Sacha's Smoked Rib Shack
Sacha tends to his ribs with even more care than he will show to his children one day. 
As much as my ego loves attention and delusions of culinary grandeur, I have to admit that my amazingly glorious pumpkin chili (like I said-ego) came in a distant second to Sacha's ridiculously smokey, tender, juicy and all around phenomenal ribs. Years of dedication and long hours consulting finally paid off by training Sacha to wake up super early and be productive. These ribs that were started at 6 am exploded with flavor that stole everyone's attention. We were so enamored with them, that we did not even realize the game we were watching had ended.
The sauced variety was just the right amount of messy.
The large bits of pepper really brought the rub to another level.
Look at that glorious layer of smoke. If only you could smell it and see it fall off the bone.

No comments:

Post a Comment