Among the long list of reasons we love warm homemade chili, one of the biggest is that it's customizable. Whether you're vegan or a staunch meat eater, there are plenty of recipes to get inspiration from, and one of the most unique ways to jazz it up — especially in the fall — can be enjoyed by both types of eater. Enter canned pumpkin.
Canned pumpkin adds a subtle sweetness and earthy flavor to your favorite chili recipe, which helps achieve a well-rounded profile when combined with spices and other fiery aromatics. If you're making a meat-based chili, the delicate whispers of sweetness in canned pumpkin will seamlessly complement the savory essence of animal proteins. And, if you're opting for a legume-centric pot, pumpkin is the perfect counter to the mild, sometimes bitter flavor of black beans, kidney beans, and lentils.
It's not just the chili's flavor that's enhanced by canned pumpkin, it's also its texture that thrives on this earthy autumnal ingredient. Canned pumpkin has a thick, whipped consistency that brings a creamy texture to your chili, making it more filling and decadent than ever before.
Canned Pumpkin Versus Fresh Pumpkin
It can be very rewarding and easy to add canned pumpkin to your chili, even more so than the fresh stuff. For starters, fresh pumpkin requires a lot more effort compared to its tin can counterpart. Using whole fresh pumpkins means that you'd first have to cook them down until tender, then make a puree by hand or with a food processor. On the other hand, canned pumpkin has already gone through those steps.
All you need to do is add a bit of the puree in to your chili pot after you've heated up your aromatics and prior to adding any liquid ingredients and you're good go to.
Another great highlight is that canned pumpkin is as nutrient-dense as fresh pumpkins, full of essential vitamins and nutrients and rich in fiber, which regulates digestion, plus beta-carotene which may help improve vision and overall immune health, according to OSF Health.
However, one of the most convincing reasons to opt for canned pumpkin over fresh varieties is its availability. Canned pumpkin is widely available year-round at most supermarkets and grocery stores, while whole pumpkins are only widespread during the festive fall season. So save the whole gourd for carving and grab the canned variety instead.
Additional Chili Pairings And Tips
If you're not used to cooking with canned pumpkin, or you've only used it for sweet recipes, there are some tips on additional ingredients that will complement it within a pot of chili.
When it comes to spices, cumin's warm, smoky flavor meshes well with the folksy heartiness of pumpkin while fiery chili powder adds an edge to its sweetness. As for whole ingredients, ground meat like beef or turkey brings a textural contrast and a savory edge to pumpkin's dessert-like vibe. A squeeze of lime juice or a dash of vinegar can also brighten the robust flavors and provide a counterbalance to any sweetness if you accidentally add too much pumpkin puree. Otherwise, just add your go-to chili ingredients and trust that pumpkin's ability to blend with a wide range of flavors and aromas will suit whatever you decide to add.
And if you want a side to go with your bowl of pumpkin chili, try a sage-kissed cornbread or a rosemary baguette to add an herbaceous flair reminiscent of Thanksgiving recipes without being confined to the month of November. To wash it down, a light or medium-bodied lager or pale ale makes for a refreshingly bitter contrast to the rich chili. For a booze-free option, a good old-fashioned iced tea will taste familiar and comforting paired with your pumpkin chili.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.