Chili with Roasted Squash Cornbread

DSC05450I tried new chili and cornbread recipes recently, and really enjoyed both. The chili is hearty and flavorful from a tomato-chili pepper paste, cinnamon, cocoa powder, honey and beer. It’s one of those dishes where you can’t help but analyze the flavors. What exactly am I tasting right now? What is that ingredient? The roasted squash cornbread  was equally interesting. The bread is wonderfully moist with a beautiful, golden hue, and of course, makes the perfect partner for chili.

Meat and Bean Chili with Market Carrots (slightly adapted from Epicurious; serves 6-8)

2 tbsp oil
1 pound ground or finely diced beef
1 dried pasilla or ancho chile, and 1 dried anaheim chili rehydrated (I broiled and skinned a poblano pepper in substitution for the ahaheim)
32 oz canned tomatoes or 2-3 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp mild ground chile powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp honey or maple syrup
1 tbsp cocoa powder
2 cups cooked black beans, rinsed
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
4-6 cups of stock or water (I used vegetable broth)
1/2 cup beer (optional)

In a medium saucepan, bring two cups of water to a boil, then remove the pan from the heat. In a small skillet over medium heat, briefly toast the dehydrated chiles until charred. Submerge the chili peppers in the hot water and let stand for about 30 minutes. Remove the seeds and stem, and place the flesh in a blender with the tomatoes and mix until smooth.

Heat the oil in a large stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Saute the meat and onions until the meat is browned, about 10 minutes. Add dried spices and stir for about 1 minute. Add the tomato-chili pepper mixture, cocoa powder, beans, carrots, honey or maple syrup, garlic and bay leaf. Add stock or water to cover, about 4-6 cups. Simmer about 45 minutes to 1 hour over medium-low heat. Add salt to taste. Feel free to add 1/2 cup of your favorite beer and cook another 5 minutes. Serve with grated cheese, sour cream and fresh cornbread.

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