Friday, February 25, 2011

Chili of the Americas

There are tons of benefits to getting a farm share; your food based carbon footprint drops, you get to know the person who grows your food, you support the local economy, you get high food value for your dollar, the food is fresher and, thus, tastier, than anything you can buy in the supermarket...but there are challenges as well. Most of the time, people decide what they want to cook and then buy the ingredients. With a farm share, you get the ingredients and then have to figure out what to do with them. Sure, it means that every now and again I wanted to set a pile of lettuce on fire and order a pizza, but sometimes Riss and I developed recipes that have become some of our favorite meals. This one Riss did that she calls “Chili of the Americas” because it's a chili recipe that uses the “Three Sisters” of North American cooking; squash, corn, and beans. (Though, chili itself is a North American dish, so the title is a bit redundant, but, hey, it's got to be something other than just “Vegetarian Chili.”) This is adapted from a meatified chili recipe (Double Beef Chili by Living Cookbook) we got from a friend.

2 tsp vegetable oil
2 onions, diced
2 cups shredded pumpkin or hard squash (butternut works best, but most others would be fine)
1 cup pumpkin or hard squash cubed
1 cup corn (frozen is okay)
1 cup potatoes cubed
1 cup medium to mild peppers chopped (I’ve used cubanos, poblanos and/or banana peppers, but you can use green ones as well)
4 jalapeno peppers, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs cumin seed
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp coriander seed
4 oz tomato paste
10 oz stock
1.5 Cups diced tomatoes
1 Cup Strong Coffee
1 Cup Dark Beer
38 oz kidney beans canned
38 oz mixed beans canned (black, pink, navy etc)
1/4 Cup brown sugar
1 Tbs cocoa powder

1 In a large pot heat oil over medium heat. Fry onions, all peppers, garlic, cumin, salt, cayenne, oregano and coriander until onions are softened, about 5 minutes.
2 Add shredded pumpkin, tomato paste, stock, tomatoes, coffee, beer, kidney beans, sugar, and cocoa. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for 1 hour.
3 Add all the remaining vegetables, simmer for 30 minutes
4Add remaining beans; simmer 30 minutes.
5 Serve with corn bread and shredded cheese.

(also makes amazing chili fries)

As long as you use vegetarian stock (and I highly suggest making your own, but that's another post) this is vegetarian, and if you leave out the cheese (though I'd add a little extra salt when serving) it's vegan, and if you simply must have meat in your chili adding some ground beast or cubed beast, browned first, during the first hour of cooking won't be bad, but might stand out texture-wise at the end. (And I think you can go without meat for at least one meal, especially one this damn tasty and hearty.) You can adjust the heat by adding more or less jalapenos, or by removing more or less of the white ribs on the inside of the jalapenos when you clean them (for that is where the heat lives).
This recipe is also easy to upscale. Riss and I tend to make in “vats” and freeze portions of it, so we make it one afternoon and it eat periodically for months afterward. It's a few hours total of cooking and prep, and we end up with a bunch of microwavable meals. (Which we sometimes, as noted above, slather over fries and under shredded cheese.  Often late at night.)


  1. Actually, it's "Chili of the Americas" because a majority of the ingredients are indigenous to the Americas, North, South and Central. This includes, corn, squash, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, cocoa, coffee and peppers. Otherwise I would have just called it "3 Sisters' Chili".

  2. When I saw your post calling for people to post their chili recipes, I was all set to offer mine up--then I looked at yours, and realized mine is the one you're modifying from! Incidentally, Living Cookbook isn't the source--that's just a recipe program I stored it in. The original source is a Canadian healthy cooking magazine, but I never saw the original, so I don't know the title.

    I've since modified the recipe a bit myself--for a deeper, earthier flavor, I've dropped the sugar and added some ancho powder and liquid smoke. Also, I've increased the amount of meat in it significantly, but that's not much help if your goal is a vegetarian chili...