It’s a rainy September day in Wilmington, and we are currently basking in bowls of the best chili I ever made. There are a few “secret” ingredients in this recipe that I think are important elements to the chili.
Growing up, my mom made meaty spaghetti sauce that was delicious; both spicy and sweet. She used regular processed sugar in our sauce, but for mine, I used 90% DARK CHOCOLATE. I used 2 squares of an organic bar (about 1 oz.) and it added a rich, sweet element, especially in combination with the sweet BUTTERNUT SQUASH.
To achieve the spicy element that pairs so well with sweetness, I used 1/8 cup of RED CHILI FLAKES. I love these on everything: avocado toast, cauliflower pizza, ice cream (just kidding!) They really are one of my favorite cheap flavor punches. Additionally, I used a can of GREEN CHILIS to deepen the spicy note.
Bison is a lean meat that has the flavor of beef, but is packed with less fat and more protein. See my OTHER bison chili recipe for more details! I also like that bison is raised in humane, sustainable practices.
Meaty mushrooms are the key to the texture of this dish. I DID NOT use beans in this recipe because I wanted there to be an easy Vegan Sub out for this chili. Thus, if you are not eating meat, you can simply sub in 1 can of Navy Beans and 1-2 cans of Kidney Beans for your Bison/ Beef. Because there are mushrooms in this chili, it tastes MEATY both ways! Mushrooms are essential to good vegetarian meals. Thank you, FUNGI!
And those are the secrets for the Best Chili I ever Made!
Butternut Squash, Kale & Mushroom Chili (6-10 servings)
1 butternut squash, sliced and chunked (I used Trader Joe’s pre-chunked)
1 bunch of kale (your preferred type)
1 pound of Bison or Beef (OR sub 2-3 beans as described above)1 can of organic tomato paste
3-4 cups of vegetable broth ( I use the 32 oz box when I don’t use my own which is about 4 cups, but 3 will suffice)
1 large zucchini
1 red onion
1 can of green chilis
1/8 cup of chili flakes
salt and pepper
1 oz. of dark chocolate
- In your large chili pot, use cooking fat or oil to saute your chopped onion on medium heat
- Add in the beef and dark chocolate
- Break down beef, browning in oil for about 3 minutes
- Add in butternut squash, mushrooms, chopped zucchini, tomato paste, vegetable broth, green chilis, and spices
- Bring to a simmer for 20 minutes, and then turn down to low heat for 1 hour. It will look soupy- That’s good!
- Stir in kale and cook until kale is softened and absorbs extra liquid
Cuddle up and enjoy!