I actually did not have a lot of chili growing up. My mom has a famous baked bean recipe that is like a family tradition and I suppose that is as close to chili as I got. My fondness for this one-pot dish probably grew in college. I spent a lot of time with band kids and my co-ed fraternity and we would often have get-togethers or potlucks on the weekend. Chili was the easiest dish to make for a large crowd. Plus it was generally inexpensive to create.
It wasn’t until I started making it more on my own and researching different recipes that I realized chili is kind of a big thing. There are different versions for different regions and the people in these religions defend their chili fiercely. Like, don’t try to put beans in a Texan chili and make sure you serve chili over spaghetti in Cincinnati. Then you get into the finer points of secret ingredients.
I’m pretty sure every serious chili maker has a few secret ingredients.
I love it. I love hearing the origin of different chilis. I like hearing people loyal to one version of chili debate why theirs is the only true chili. I relish learning about secret ingredients and how they make the dish better. I take all of this and experiment with my own chili making.
I don’t think I have a signature chili yet, but this one is pretty close. I enjoy a chili with beans, but for this version, I decided to focus on squash and spuds. I’m sure some would argue this isn’t chili, just a hearty stew. But I say to-may-to you say to-mah-to. Either way, I love the combo of butternut squash and sweet potato along with chili spices and my secret ingredients. Which aren’t really that secret because I’m sharing them with you and I’m sure someone has thought of them before.
I’ll keep making chili and tweaking it and see what I like and maybe someday I will have a chili that people claim as the one true chili.
Hey, I can dream.
Squash Chili- serves 8
Calories: 126 Total fat: 2.41g Carbs: 25.5g Fiber: 5.9g Protein: 3.66g Sugar: 6.94g
- 2 cups butternut squash, cubed
- 1 cup sweet potato, cubed
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 yellow pepper, diced
- 1 cup onion, diced
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
- 3 ribs celery, diced
- 1 cup frozen corn kernels (can omit if you don’t do corn)
- 2 cans fire-roasted tomatoes, 14 oz. each
- 8 oz tomato sauce
- 1-2 cups water
- 1 can jackfruit, drained, rinsed, and shredded OR 2 cups cooked and shredded chicken
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tsp Mexican oregano, or regular if that’s what you have
- 2 tsp basil
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- 2 tbsp peanut butter (yes, trust me)
- fresh cilantro, chopped
- sour cream
- lime wedges
- Place the butternut squash and sweet potatoes into the bottom of your slow cooker. Heat a little olive oil over medium-high heat in a large saute pan. Saute the carrots and celery until they start to brown around the edges. Add to the slow cooker and return pan to the heat.
- Add more olive oil if needed and saute the onions, peppers, and garlic until soft. Add to the slow cooker. Add the rest of the ingredients minus the toppings, to your slow cooker. Stir everything to make sure it’s well-combined. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-6 hours.
- Once done, turn off the slow cooker and squeeze lime juice over the top and stir before serving.