Beef and Pumpkin Chili Mole has got to be the queen of all fall stews, with tender bits of steak, chunks of fresh pumpkin, lots of peppers, both hot and sweet, black beans and an ultra rich broth of fire roasted tomatoes, beer, ancho chili and a touch of deep cocoa powder. It’s a delicious mouthful.
This beef and pumpkin chili is inspired by the intense, complicated mole sauces from Mexico and Central America, it’s definitely not authentic, but calls upon some of their flavors. You will not detect the chocolate, as such, in this dish, but combined with the chili powders it does give this stew an unusual complexity.
I love chili, it’s so easy to throw together and it can feed us for days. It can be put together in the hour between coming through the back door with a bag of groceries, and sitting down at the table. Or, better yet, made in the morning and refrigerated till dinner.
The ingredients are all commons ones. You can substitute butternut squash if you can’t find a small pumpkin, and as for the fresh chili peppers, I’ll confess that I will usually go with whatever variety my store happens to have available. I used a jalapeno for some heat, but the others are generally mild, and so I like to experiment. I went with a yellow bell pepper for sweetness and color.
Ever since I created my Masa Harina Biscuits, they are my default pairing with chili. This time I cut them into scone shapes and I like them better this way. The recipe is the same as for the biscuits, except I cut them into 8 scones instead of rounds. Sometimes I will make chili just to have an excuse to enjoy these.
These are the uncooked scones, the cooked ones were gone before I could photograph them. Trust me, they are the best thing you’ve ever tasted.
- 1 lb steak, or lean beef, cut in small bite sized chunks
- 1 Tbsp ancho chili powder (look for this next to the regular chili powder)
- 1 Tbsp smoked hot paprika
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, sliced, seeds and all
- 1 anaheim pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 2 cups raw pumpkin, peeled and cut in a large dice (you can also use butternut squash)
- 1 bottle of beer
- 28 oz can crushed fire roasted tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 heaping Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- 2 Tbsp masa harina
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1 14 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
- Put the beef chunks in a bowl or a baggie and sprinkle with the chili powder and paprika. Massage the spices through the meat, and set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil on medium high and brown the meat on all sides. Remove the meat and any juices from the pan and set on a plate.
- Heat the second tablespoon of oil in the same pot, and saute the onions and peppers for about 5 minutes. Add the pumpkin and cook for 5 more minutes.
- Add the beer to the pot and let it cook down for a couple of minutes. Then add the tomatoes, spices, along with the meat and juices back into the pot. Bring everything to a simmer.
- Cook the chili, uncovered, gently for about 30 minutes until the squash is tender but not mushy.
- Mix the masa harina with the water and add to the chili. Simmer for a minute or two while the chili thickens.
- Add the black beans, bring back to a simmer, and taste for seasoning adjustments.
- At this point you can cool and refrigerate the chili, or serve right away. But the flavor of the chili will improve as it sits.