This chili came out even better than I wanted it to. I was kind of winging it, taking a few tricks out of other recipes I make as I went. – cocoa powder and allspice from our favorite steak rub, red wine vinegar and a splash of beer from my mom’s chili recipe, and roasting the squash with smoked paprika before adding it to the chili the way I do with pretty much all vegetables.Rich and saucy and slightly sweet, with just a hint of lip-tingling spice, it blows every chili I’ve made out of the water. For me, at least, the slightly gamey, tender chunks of lamb are so much better than beef.
Lamb, Butternut Squash, and White Bean Chili
- 1/2 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 4 cups cubed)
- 3 TBS + 2 TBS olive oil, divided
- sea salt
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 lb. cubed boneless lamb (cut for stew)
- 1 large onion, peeled and diced
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
- 1 serrano chile pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely minced
- 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced
- 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 c. water
- 2 TBS tomato paste
- 3 c. chopped fresh tomatoes, about 2 large (cores and stems discarded)
- 1 TBS red wine vinegar
- 1 (15 oz.) can of canellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 3/4 c. dark beer, such as stout
- grated cheddar cheese, for serving (optional)
- sour cream, for serving (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Toss the butternut squash with 3 TBS of olive oil, a generous sprinkling of sea salt, and the smoked paprika until evenly coated. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast until tender when poked with a fork, about 30 minutes (stir/flip the cubes once after about 15 minutes). Remove the butternut squash from the oven and set aside.
- Add the remaining 2 TBS of olive oil to a large stockpot and place over medium-high heat. Generously season the lamb with sea salt, then add to the stockpot and brown on all sides, which should take about 5 minutes (1-2 minutes per side). Use a slotted spoon to remove the lamb from the pot and set aside.
- Add the onion, garlic, serrano, and bell pepper to the pot and saute, stirring frequently, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, cocoa powder, and allspice, and stir to coat the vegetables. Saute for 2 minutes longer, then return the lamb to the pot and stir to combine with the vegetables and spices. Add the bay leaf, water, tomato paste, chopped fresh tomatoes, and half of the roasted butternut squash, stir to combine, and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot and let simmer for 1 hour.
- Remove the lid from the pot and continue to simmer the chili until it is thick and saucy. About 15 minutes before you plan to serve, add the red wine vinegar, canellini beans,the remaining half of the squash, and beer (add the beer slowly, as it will bubble up!). Stir to combine and taste for seasoning. Simmer for 15 minutes longer, to heat beans through, then serve immediately with grated cheddar cheese and sour cream.