Beef and Butternut Squash Chili
I have a bad habit. When I’m making a recipe, even a new recipe, I just don’t taste the food until it’s on my plate. Most of the time, I get lucky, and the seasoning is pretty great. I’ve gotten used to how much seasoning works for how much of a certain food. Occasionally, it is under-seasoned, and rarely, it is over-seasoned.
This chili was one of those even rarer cases. It is so flavorful, so perfect, so warm, so fantastic, that I could just eat it every day forever. This is officially my favorite chili. Just like I have a favorite hash. And a favorite actor (Jim Carrey). And a favorite husband.
Anyway, enough about me. Let’s talk about this grub.
It takes about 40 minutes, start to plate. You could let it simmer for much longer to develop the flavors. You could add more vegetables or some heat. But this was perfect to throw together and step away for 20 minutes while it simmered.
Here we goooooo:
START by carefully peeling and chopping about half of a butternut squash. (Check this out for a few tips on doing that!) You also want to chop an onion and mince some garlic (IDEA: I chop a few onions from time to time and save it all in the refrigerator because I hate chopping onions!)
Brown the beef and cook the onions on medium, at the same time. I used a cast iron Dutch oven, but a regular Dutch oven or metal pot will work fine, too.
This takes about 8 minutes. Once the meat is browned, drain the grease! Replace the pot to the stove and add the broth/stock, seasonings and spices, squash, tomato paste, and some water so that most of the goods are covered. Keep it classy.
Stir it around until the tomato paste is incorporated completely. This should come to a boil in just a few minutes. Once it does, bring the heat down to low and let that simmer for as long as you want. I did it for 20 minutes and stirred it every 5 minutes or so, whenever I thought about it!
That’s it folks. Super easy and flavorful and wonderful. It will most definitely be a staple here, even when the weather is warm outside. You can see below how I served it to my kiddo; you could purée it as well and offer a preloaded spoon to your baby instead.
BEEF AND BUTTERNUT SQUASH CHILI
Serves 3-4 adults
Good for 6 months and up
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup chicken/veggie/beef stock or broth
- 1/2 butternut squash, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 tsp salt (add more at the table)
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp paprika (or smoked paprika)
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 6-ounce can tomato paste (check the back: it should just be tomatoes! no added sugar!)
- Prepare your vegetables ahead of time.
- Heat a large pot or Dutch oven to medium. Cook the beef, onion, and garlic until the beef is no longer pink.
- Drain the grease!
- The heat is still on medium: add the rest of the ingredients, as well as enough water to cover most of the food. Stir to incorporate everything.
- Let the pot come to a boil, then lower the temperature to low and cover.
- Simmer for 20+ minutes, stirring occasionally.
IDEAS! Add fresh tomato and cut back on the tomato paste. Use tomato sauce instead of tomato paste. Use just stock instead of adding water. Add some more herbs and spices. Add a can of (drained and rinsed) beans of your choice. Add sweet potatoes, other squash, or carrots. Try chunks of beef instead of ground beef. Double/triple/quadruple the recipe so you can eat it forever!
FREEZER! One idea above is to double/triple/quadruple the recipe. If you’ve got a big enough pot, go for it. Then once you’ve eaten your meal and set aside leftovers for the next day (if that’s your thing), let it all cool. Then carefully pour the mixture into large freezer bags, seal them, and freeze them flat. That way you’ve got big portions of chili that you can simply thaw and reheat in a pot later. Those bags of chili should last a month or more!
HERE is how I served it to my son: