January 29, 2007

Cheap/Tasty - Butternut Squash Chili

In winter's depths last week, I thought it high time to try out some chili. I went to the usual suspects, epicurious, Southern Living, Cook's, etc., and found only two recipes that looked promising: a beef-and-butternut squash chili from Southern Living and a traditional chili con carne from Gourmet. Feeling adventurous, I went with the former.

Honestly I don't think I've ever prepared a recipe that called for so many canned goods, and considering I made a double batch, my poor decrepit can opener had to grind through (yes, grind) seven cans of tomatoes, 'chili with vegetarian,' and broth. The thought of the creamy, dreamy butternut squash got me through the miserable sound of my dying can opener.

The recipe was incredibly straightforward to prepare, but I ran into problems in the supermarket finding the ingredients. After going through three or four markets looking for canned 'chili beans,' I eventually settled on Hormel chili with vegetarian beans. Afterward, my roommate put forth the suggestion of canned kidney beans, but by then I had decided to go with my gut.

And I was rewarded. Except for an unfortunate blandness, which was remedied by last minute adjustments, the chili rocked. The sweetness of the squash played beautifully with the spices and the texture proved a compliment to the mix.

It was versatile, too. I served it alone, topped with cheese and sour cream. My favorite, though, was mixing it up with rice. Hearty and filling. And, according to Southern Living, the chili is full of vitamins B, C, as well as zinc and beta-carotene. (!)

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Special thanks to me for the photo. It isn't pretty, but it's good stuff.

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