Chili Challenge: Sweet and Spicy Chili

My husband makes an incredible chili with Mexican chocolate as the “secret” ingredient.  Like a mole sauce, the chocolate adds a subtle complexity to the spicy heat that is a little bit sweet and totally delicious.  For this challenge, I decided to amp up those spicy sweet flavors even more prominently and add pumpkin as a mellowing agent to create a whole new chili.  I present to you:

Sweet and Spicy Chili

  • 1 lb. uncured chorizo sausage (I used the delicious–and spicy!– chorizo from Youngblood Grassfed Farm sold at the ASN Food Club)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced (you can use less if you’d like)
  • 1 T. chili powder
  • 1 t. oregano
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 2 quarts (2 28 oz. cans) canned whole tomatoes, undrained (I used roma tomatoes from Armstead Mountain Farm sold at Food Club that I canned last summer)
  • 1 1/2 c. cooked pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin (I used frozen puree from Barnhill Orchard’s pie pumpkins, sold at–you guessed it–Food Club)
  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed  (or 4 c. cooked beans)
  • 2 c. chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 c. water
  • 1 1/2 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped

Start by removing the chorizo from the casings, if in link form, and brown loose sausage in a large pot over medium heat.  Once it’s browned, transfer the chorizo to a bowl and check the spiciness–depending on your heat tolerance you may want to use less than a full 1 lb and reserve the rest for tomorrow’s breakfast.  Pour off all but 2 T fat from pot.  Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes or until softened.  Add spices and cook stirring until fragrant.  Add tomatoes, pumpkin puree, black beans, broth and water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes or longer if you like thick chili.  When chili has reduced to the texture you like, remove from heat and stir in chocolate until melted.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with chopped cilantro, sour cream, hot sauce and serve with tortilla chips.

If you’re like my friend Meredith you may be feeling suspicious of chili with chocolate and pumpkin.  To ease your mind, let me share her totally unsolicited review of a special preview taste test of this recipe.  She writes:

Today must be my birthday.  At lunch, my dear friend Erika surprised me with a sampling of her latest creation – Sweet and Spicy Black Bean Chili.  When I first heard of the challenge, I began nagging Erika about her possibilities.  She started brainstorming with thoughts of pumpkin, chocolate and chorizo.  Okay, I’ll admit.  As an amateur chef, lacking in creativity, I was skeptical about this concoction.  I couldn’t quite picture what it might taste like.  What would Erika come up with this time?  Something amazing, no doubt.  But what?

I’m here to tell you….Erika sure delivered!!  The Sweet and Spicy Black Bean Chili was a surprising taste explosion, each bite revealing something different and unique about the Chili.  It has a hearty smoky flavor with a smooth sweet undertone and the chorizo is such a great alternative to traditional meats associated with chili.  It was so satisfying but the delectable flavor fusion left me wanting more.  Whether you’re looking to impress your friends at the Super Bowl party or comfort your kids on a snowy afternoon, this chili does the trick!  This chili, like Erika, is sweet, spicy and just plain fantastic!!

Still unconvinced? I’ve got a visual review from my toughest critic–a 5 year old boy.

Before....

And,

After!

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

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