It’s always a bit difficult for me to surrender to cold weather; summertime is my favorite, and luckily here in Texas it can be crazy hot almost any time of year, and even on stormy or gloomy days I feel like I should be hitting the swimming hole rather than cozying up to the fireplace in a chunky sweater. The silver lining to my cloudy day blues is that I love, love, love fall flavors. I can mix pumpkin or sweet potato into practically any dish and call it an improvement.
While I love autumn-y flavors and foods, I detest canned chili (it’s always gross, come on) and even homemade, traditional ground beef chili gets slightly boring. My favorite chili recipe is one I created incorporating all of my favorite fall tastes. It’s hearty and comforting, yet very healthy and simple to make. It incorporates a smoky southwestern flair, thanks to the addition of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. It uses steak instead of ground beef, black beans and corn instead of kidney beans, pumpkin to add richness and bulk… basically, this is not your average chili and that’s why I like it.
Smoky Southwestern Steak & Sweet Potato Chili
3 gloves garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 large (28oz) cans stewed tomatoes
2 cans black beans
1 can corn
1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (find them in the “Hispanic Foods” section of most major grocery stores)
1 can plain pumpkin (make sure not to get pumpkin pie filling!)
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
1 red pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
1lb steak tips, browned
1tbsp olive oil
1-3 cups beef broth
This is going to make a pretty generous amount of chili, 6-8 bowls (depending on how large you like your bowls of chili!) so get out an appropriately sized soup or stock pot. Set it to medium high and heat the olive oil. Toss in your onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add in the tomatoes, beans, corn, sweet potatoes, pepper, steak, chipotle peppers plus sauce* and pumpkin. The chili will be extremely thick at this point. Thin it out to your preference and, if you’d like, add more over the next hour-ish as the chili cooks down.
Once the sweet potatoes are tender and cooked all the way through, you know your chili is ready to devour. Serve with a hunk of cornbread and a glass of spicy red wine or bottle of pumpkin beer!
*A note on the chipotle peppers and their sauce: the amount you choose to use is up to you. Depends on how spicy you like your chili. Chipotle is great because it doesn’t just hit you in the face with fiery hotness; it’s more of a slow, sweet, smoky burn that builds up the more you add. What I recommend doing is separating two or three of the peppers from the sauce, cutting them into ribbons and tossing those into the pot, then adding the adobo sauce little by little, tasting along the way. I usually end up using three peppers and about 3/4 of the can of sauce. Save the rest for later— you can use the leftovers to spice up your cooking the rest of the week.