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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Sausage with Braised Cabbage and Apples

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This meal is like having your own little Octoberfest on a plate! Fresh, local cabbage, apples and smoked sausage braised together until you have fall deliciousness that is tart, sweet and a little floral. No more of that stinky cabbage of years past–this is fresh and flavorful. I made extra just so I could take some for lunch!

You can use any kind of smoked, link sausage in this dish. We actually used a combination of smoked jalapeño sausage and smoked Polish sausage from Mae Farm. Their sausage is so good I could just inhale it. We used three kinds of apples as well–one tart, one more floral and one sweet. Our favorite is the crisp and tart Dixie Red, a sassy heirloom variety apple found here in North Carolina. Mr. Godwin of Godwin Farms helped me pick out a blend of apples that would go well with both the cabbage and the sausage, howgreatisthat?

Sausage with Braised Cabbage and Apples (makes 6 servings)

  • 1 1/2 pounds pasture raised smoked, link sausage, cut into 2-3″ lengths
  • 1 large organic onion, peeled and sliced
  • 4 large apples, mixed variety, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/4″ thick slices
  • 1 medium head of fresh, green cabbage, washed, cored and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • Kosher salt and ground, black pepper, to taste
  1. In a large skillet or Dutch oven, brown the sausage over medium heat, rendering some of the fat. This will take about 10 minutes.
  2. Remove the sausage and set aside. Leave about 2 tablespoons of drippings in the pan.
  3. Return the skillet to medium heat and add the onions. Sauté the onions for about 5 minutes or until soft and translucent.
  4. Add the apple slices to the onions and stir well. Cook about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the cabbage, sausage, cider, salt, pepper and coriander to the pan or pot. Reduce heat to low, cover and allow everything to cook down, about 45 minutes. Stir often. If pan juices begin to dry, add some water to the pan.
  6. Serve hot.

Week 35 Budget and Menu

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One of the great aspects of working in a downtown area is our Wednesday downtown farmer’s market. Not only can I walk down the street to do my shopping, but I can get lunch, too! I am completely in love with this Korean mixed rice bowl offered by Kim Bap (see photo above)–I may very well be addicted to the chili sauce. The whole bowl is filled with warm rice, brisket, kimchi, and vegetables (today it was cucumber). Yum!!!

Well this week’s produce at the market was beautiful, but I can definitely see that the seasons are starting to change. The berries are gone and tomatoes and peaches are on their way out. For the first time this year, I saw muscadine and scuppernog grapes and many of our vendors have early apples. Sigh. I’m still not finished with summer, but it is clearly coming to an end.

This week’s menu for Labor Day weekend features some wonderful, late summer produce like corn, bell peppers, butter beans and figs. I tried a fig and almond cake that was wonderful, but ugly. I’m going to try again and hope that the next version is more photogenic!

Budget [$90.32]

  • The Produce Box (peaches, sprite melons, gala apples, sweet corn, bell peppers, heirloom tomatoes, squash, zucchini, lettuce, onions, butter beans): $36.00
  • Hilltop Organic Farm (cherry tomatoes): $4.00
  • Homestead Harvest Farm (eggs): $5.00
  • Rare Earth Farm (steak): $14.00
  • Hillsborough Cheese Company (goat cheese, figs): $9.00
  • Trader Joes (pie crust, frozen fruit): $12.32

Menu

  • Wednesday–Tomato sandwiches (Girl Scout night!)
  • Thursday–Skinny taco casserole, salad
  • Friday–Leftover casserole, salad
  • Saturday–Fig and goat cheese pizza with caramelized onions, peach cobbler
  • Sunday–Roasted red pepper tart
  • Monday–Grilled steak, butter beans, stewed okra and tomatoes
  • Tuesday–Leftover buffet
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