Locavore Pumpkin Ale Chili

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Chili is a great fall staple that everyone in my family loves. My usual strategy for chili involves ground turkey, a packet of chili seasoning, some organic canned beans and some chopped tomatoes–nothing fancy, but it’s quick and good. Last year, I ventured out of my safety zone and made a pumpkin chili that was super good. If you have visited your local farmer’s markets lately, you have probably seen a proliferation of peppers. Our markets are chock full of sweet peppers, hot peppers, super hot peppers, stuffing peppers and more. They are everywhere and are so pretty. My only trouble was making up my mind! I took all my beautiful chilis home, roasted them on the grill, and added the chopped peppers to the chili. Wow, what a difference a roasted fresh chili pepper makes!

This chili is rich, spicy and a bit sweet from the pumpkin and the beer. It is definitely not a five alarm chili, but I actually like it better than searingly hot chili. The cinnamon adds a lovely depth to the flavor.

A note about the beans in this chili. I used organic, dried heirloom beans from the bulk bins at Whole Foods, and rehydrated them by soaking them overnight. You can of course substitute canned beans–they are a lot easier and quicker. I love the flavor of the (formerly) dried beans, especially when I can use several different kinds, but using canned beans can be a life saver!

Locavore Pumpkin Chili (makes 8-10 servings)

  • 2 pounds local, grass fed ground beef
  • 4 cloves organic garlic, minced
  •  1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  •  2 large, sweet Italian peppers, 3 poblano peppers, 2 green bell peppers and 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 15-ounce can organic pumpkin puree
  • 1 bottle pumpkin ale
  • 4 tomatoes, skins removed and chopped
  • 3 heaping cups of rehydrated, organic dried beans (I used ½ cup each of dried black beans, Anasazi beans, and adzuki beans, soaked overnight in water)
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  1. Heat your grill or a grill pan to medium high. Toss the whole peppers with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Grill the peppers, turning frequently, until peppers are charred on the outside (about 4-5 minutes total). Put all the peppers in a bowl and cover the bowl with a plate. Let the peppers steam for 15 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Peel and seed the peppers. Chop the roasted pepper flesh and set aside.
  2. In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and the garlic and saute for about 4 minutes or until onions are translucent.
  3. Add the peppers and saute for about 5 minutes more.
  4. Add the ground beef, breaking it up with a spoon, and brown. Stir often.
  5. Add the spices and tomatoes and stir well.
  6. Add the beer and stir again. Let simmer about 5 minutes.
  7. Add the pumpkin puree and beans. Season to taste.
  8. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for about an hour. Your house will smell truly amazing.
  9. Drink the remaining beer. Marvel at your domestic skills. Remember to be thankful for the farmers who produced your food!

NOTE: If you have the time, make this chili a day or two before you need it. It is even better after the flavors have a chance to blend!

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Mediterranean Shrimp and Feta

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Can you tell we love shrimp? A good number of our summer recipes revolve around shrimp and fish, both of which are available fresh from North Carolina waters. Shrimp has had a bad rep for its high cholesterol content, but interestingly, it is high in natural cholesterol and very low in fat. Studies of the effects of shrimp on cholesterol levels have shown that unlike high cholesterol, high fat foods, eating steamed, poached or roasted shrimp do not negatively impact bad cholesterol levels. Great news! Just stay away from the all-you-can-eat fried popcorn shrimp at Golden Corral. Nothing good comes of that.

This shrimp dish is unbelievably flavorful and fresh, and it comes together in about 30 minutes! The original recipe is an oldie from Southern Living, but I’ve added my own spin to it. We served this over organic rice, but pasta would be great as well.

Mediterranean Shrimp and Feta (serves 2-3)

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 red, orange or yellow bell pepper, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 lb. fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 can organic artichoke hearts, halved
  • 4 ounces goat milk feta cheese
  • Juice of one fresh lemon
  • 1/2 cup fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 3 cups cooked organic rice
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Line a rimmed sheet pan with foil.
  3. Combine the first 6 ingredients in a bowl and toss well. Add to baking sheet and roast in the oven for 15 minutes.
  4. Stir vegetables gently and add shrimp and artichoke hearts. Roast for 10 more minutes.
  5. Combine feta, lemon juice and parsley in a large bowl.
  6. Add cooked shrimp mixture and any pan juices to the feta. Toss well.
  7. Serve over hot rice.
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