Oh yea, it’s that time of the year again. Some call it autumn, but in the food, beverage and product worlds it should be labeled “every damn thing has pumpkin!” Mind you, I love pumpkin. A lot. I’m a huge squash fan so the fall harvest is okay by me. It’s just that once the so called marketing “gurus” get their mitts on something like a flavor or a smell, they think it’s going to sell no matter where they put it. Pumpkin Scented Toilet Paper, anyone? Nope, haven’t seen it yet, but I’m not putting it past the brain trust to weave that one into a soft two-ply available in six and twelve roll packages available on store shelves for a limited time only. Maybe that’s my biggest complaint with the “pumpkin vibe” in general, that usually it’s just too much. Y’know, vis-a-vis “I can taste the pumpkin AND the spice, Starbuck’s, but isn’t there supposed to be some coffee flavor in this cup, too?!”
So credit should go where it’s due to the brewers out there that bring the flavor into their kettles while not overdoing it, and there are a bunch of them in our great beer state of Minnesota and all across the country. Admittedly, I’m not a big pumpkin beer fan when it comes to drinking, but I do like it in recipes. This one from Meghan Storey at CraftBeer.com is a real tasty blend of all things chili – with pumpkin and pumpkin ale notes that work just right. ‘Tis the season, after all.
Pumpkin Ale Chili
- 4 lbs pork shoulder, trimmed and cubed into 1/2″ pieces
- 24 oz of your favorite pumpkin ale
- 1.5 cans pumpkin puree or pure pumpkin
- 28 oz canned crushed tomatoes
- 1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 poblano pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced
- 2-3 serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded and diced
- 3-4 chipotle peppers, diced with adobo sauce
- 1/3-1/2 cup fresh ground chili powder (adjust to your taste)
- 3 Tbsp + 1 tsp mexican oregano
- 1 Tbsp pumpkin spice
- 1/2-1 oz bakers chocolate, finely chopped
- kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- pinch of cayenne
- flour for dusting
- To make this pumpkin ale chili, place a large dutch oven over med-high heat. Add a bit of oil. Dust pork with flour. Toss pork into dutch oven and brown in batches.
- Drain. Add pork back in the dutch oven. Add in the beer, 1 tsp mexican oregano, chili powder, and chipotle peppers with sauce. Simmer for about 30 minutes.
- While pork is simmering, in another skillet over med-high heat, add in the poblano, serrano, garlic, onion, and crushed red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 7-8 minuntes, until soft. Add in tomatoes and pumpkin puree. Cook for another 5-6 minutes.
- Dump veggie mixture into pork mixture. Add in remaining oregano. Simmer for 2 hours.
- After 2 hours, add in all the beans and most of the pumpkin spice. Then add in 1/2 oz of chocolate. Cook for 15 minutes. Taste and adjust. Both chocolate and pumpkin spice go a long way. So add in a bit at a time after, taste, and adjust if you need to.
- Ladle into bowls. Garnish with a dollop of pumpkin yogurt (mix 1 cup greek yogurt, 1/4 cup pumpkin puree, pinch of cinnamon). And remember, chili is always better the next day!