Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pumpkin Chipotle Chili

Halloween09 mosaic

Calvin planned most of the food for his Halloween party this weekend: mummies (hot dogs wrapped in breadsticks), magic potion punch, a pumpkin patch cake, molded candies, cut-out cookies, pomegranate, mozzarella eyeballs, and raisins and pretzels. An eclectic menu, certainly, and skewed to youthful tastes. There was a lot of cuteness to create, from the fondant ghosts haunting the cake to painting candy molds (oh, how I regret saying yes to that request).

For those averse to mummified pigs-in-a-blanket, I decided to make monster stew (inspired by Monster Mischief, a favorite in our house). But what, exactly, should go into a real monster stew?

Pumpkin. Definitely pumpkin. Maybe beans. Yes, pumpkin chili! And the rest of it came together instantly: smoky chipotle for the heat, and a bit of earthy sage because I'm obsessed with it. (I keep chipotle in adobo sauce in plastic bag in the freezer; it's easy to take out just the right amount.)

I don't know why so many people find the idea of roasting a pumpkin intimidating, exotic, or laborious. It's ridiculously easy, and it's worth the minimal effort for this recipe. You could use canned pumpkin, which is often a wonderful shortcut, but the texture would be very different. You also could substitute other winter squash.

This made a large, satisfying pot full of chili, though I was the only one who thought of it as monster stew. My grand plans for elegantly creepy menus devolved to a scrawled yellow sticky-note slapped on the Dutch oven midway through the party. If you want to get all Martha Stewarty about it, you could serve this in a large hollowed-out pumpkin.

Pumpkin Chipotle Chili

To roast a pumpkin, simply cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds, and pierce the shell a few times with a fork; set halves on a baking sheet, cut side down, and roast at 350 degrees for 45 to 90 minutes. The pumpkin's ready when you can easily pierce to the center with a fork. To keep this child-friendly, go easy on the chile—but offer chipotle chile powder for those who want to turn up the heat.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
cooked flesh from 1 small Sugar Pie pumpkin, chopped (see note)
1 1/2 tablespoons chipotle chile in adobo sauce (more or less according to taste; see note)
1 28-ounce can of tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups cooked black beans
2 cups cooked white beans (cannelini, navy, etc.)
2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
toasted pumpkin seeds, for garnish (optional)

Heat oil in Dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat. Sauté onion and garlic until softened. Add pumpkin and chile and sauté 2 minutes more. Add tomatoes, vegetable broth, beans, sage, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer, covered, 45 minutes. Serve topped with toasted pumpkin seeds.

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