While there’s nothing ordinary about any type of chili, I did decide to do an out-of-the-box chili using butternut squash. I’ve eaten versions of pumpkin chili before that I liked, so I thought “why not butternut?!” I’m all about using the ingredients I have on hand to make up new recipes.
I use ground chicken or turkey in the recipe but it would also be great with crumbled tofu. The meat is really just for texture, you don’t taste it because it takes on the flavors of all the spices and flavors of the squash and beans. Tofu is a perfect sponge for doing the same thing, so feel free to make this a vegetarian chili and skip the meat. My husband suggested leaving it out completely but the dish would lose some integrity with the texture so do use something.
I used canned corn this time since it’s winter and hard to get fresh corn, but if you can, it’s best made with fresh. You’ll also need to roast the butternut squash ahead of time. Set the oven on 350°, cut the squash in half and roast until it’s completely tender. A 2 pounder takes about an hour. Allow the squash to cool, then peel and purée it up to have it ready to go into the chili. I purée it in the food processor so as not to leave the stringy fibers that my husband absolutely hates.
This chili does use an unusual mix of spices, but I really do recommend not skipping them. Although, as usual, the recipe is up to you and what your taste buds and family like. For those who like cardamom, all-spice, and cinnamon combined with chilies, you’ll love this recipe. I also used a good smokey sweet paprika and ground chipotle pepper to give the dish a hint of wonderful smokiness with the sweet squash, black beans and corn. YUM!
Southwestern Butternut Squash Chili
1 pound of ground turkey or chicken
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 sweet onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium-sized fresh jalapeno, finely chopped
1/4 cup green chilies, chopped
1 (15 oz.) can of unsalted corn, drained and rinsed or 2 ears of fresh, cut of the cob
1 (16 oz.) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 large tomato, diced
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. smoked sweet paprika
2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. ground chipotle pepper
1 tsp. chili powder
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground all-spice
2 cups butternut squash purée
2 cups veggie stock (or chicken)
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Cook the ground turkey or chicken (or tofu) in a large pot over medium-high heat until browned. Remove and set aside.
Sweat onions, garlic and peppers in olive oil in a large pot on medium-high heat until soft (remember to use the fan and open a window while doing the peppers or you’ll be sneezing and crying). Add the corn, black beans and tomato to the pot and cook for about 2 minutes.
Add the turkey and all the spices to the pot, stirring to incorporate before adding the butternut squash purée. Once everything is mixed together well, add the veggie or chicken stock to the pot and bring it all to a boil. Turn down to simmer and allow the chili to simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Season with salt and pepper and spoon into bowls for serving. Garnish with a sprinkle of cheese or chopped cilantro.
Makes about 6 to 8 servings.
Instructions on how to cut up butternut squash and awesome uses of it: