AUTUMN HAS ARRIVED, 0fficially, even though I know it feels like it’s been around for months. These days, it feels like stews and soups slowly simmering on the stove (say that seven times!) is a better alternative than firing up the grill and dodging raindrops. It doesn’t seem right to see all these leaves on the ground already, not yet anyway, but this is our reality. We’re tough Alaskans. We roll with the punches. Or in this case - we roll with the pumpkins.
I give you “iron chef” McGovern’s secret ingredient: pumpkin. Shhhh…don’t tell the kids. They didn’t know we’ve hidden pumpkin in our dinner this evening. Pumpkin chili, to be exact. I’ve served it before, but I’ve tweaked it many times and finally have a version I love. Just the right blend of the sweet of the pumpkin and the mild kick I like from chili. Then McGovern Dad got in on the act, and while he was making cornbread, scooped up some pumpkin and mixed it in before baking. Do you think they will guess what the secret ingredient is?
We served dinner, told them to guess what ingredient was shared in both the chili and the cornbread. They were stumped. They raced into the kitchen, looking at the ingredients that I hadn’t yet cleaned up. “Onions”. No. “Beans”. No. “Olive oil”. Good guess, but no. Finally, seeing the can on the counter, they shouted in unison “pumpkin!” Cheaters….
Cheater cheater pumpkin eaters...
Whether you can taste the secret ingredient or not, it will add not only flavor, but also pack a nutritional punch. Loaded with protein, fiber, vitamin A, C and E as well as essential minerals like iron and copper, pumpkin will help children’s eyesight, immune function, and help prevent disease. So, you can feel good about dinner and have fun stumping the children!
Pumpkin & Moose Chili
In a large dutch oven or saucepan on medium-high, saute onion and peppers in olive oil until soft and translucent. Add ground meat and sausage. Cook until no pink remains. Drain sausage of fat by tipping pan and scooping out accumulated fat to an empty can.
Add canned tomatoes (whole and crushed), pumpkin, water, and spices. Mix well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add more water if chili is too thick. Add black beans and heat for another 10 minutes. Serve with toppings if desired.
* I use Jimmy Dean’s hot pork sausage for extra flavor. I find that it’s not too spicy (and I don’t like spicy), but if your kids don’t like ANY spice, try regular or mild Italian sausage. I have one child that thought it was too spicy, but still ate it when toned down with some sour creamt (you can also use plain yogurt) mixed in.