If you think your folks won't like the squash in the chili, look at the two photos above. The top photo is just after I mixed all of the ingredients together. That squash is all bright orange—it's like a challenge to the meat lovers out there. But look at the bottom photo. After an hour or so of simmering on the stove, it just looks like regular chili. If you don't tell what's in this one, I don't think anyone will figure it out.
I will tell you that if you use fresh squash, it might not disappear so completely. You can look at my photos (and more photos) from previous winters when I've made this. It all tasted good. But using the frozen vs fresh looks different. This was the first time I found the frozen squash at the store. It was in the organic section. Maybe I've never looked in the right place before. Opening that bag was much easier than peeling and chopping, but this chili is good enough that I'll deal with the fresh squash if I have to.
Daddy-O's question this time was, "What gives it the meaty flavor?" And I'm not sure. I think it's the cocoa mixed in with the other spices. It does have a little bit of a smoky taste. This time we sprinkled a little Monterey Jack cheese on top.
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 (14-oz.) cans diced tomatoes (one can had green peppers & onion)
2 (15.5-oz.) cans black beans (do not drain)
1 (10-oz) bag frozen cubed butternut squash (or 2-3 cups fresh squash, peeled & cubed)
4 garlic cloves, minced (or 2 tsp of jarred minced garlic)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup water
Combine all ingredients in large pot. Bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer for 60-90 minutes, stirring occasionally. (You can also use your slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours.)
Taste the chili and if it's too acidic from the tomatoes, add a pinch of sugar. I don't always think it needs it, but this time it did.
Optional toppings: crushed tortilla chips, shredded cheese, sour cream
DUH! I just realized that I never put the 1 cup of water into the pot. It was good anyway! Now I want to make it again with the water and the frozen squash and see if there is much difference. Maybe one day I'll manage to not get distracted mid-recipe.