Pork, Buttercup Squash, and Chard Chili
Last weekend, we spent the afternoon on garden clean-up: you’ll remember the community garden plot that we had over the summer? Last weekend was the deadline to remove any trellises, fencing, or other things that can’t (or shouldn’t) be plowed into the ground when they turn the soil over again this spring. We dug up and carried out wheelbarrow-fulls of herbs, to bring inside for the winter; disassembled wooden trellises that had been supporting my (somewhat unsuccessful bid to grow) buttercup squash vines; and prodded and poked around the now-wilted plants to harvest the last of any vegetables we’d missed. Most everything we’d already picked, but our chard was still going strong, as was my cavolo nero and one – ONE! – buttercup squash. Yes, okay, that’s a lousy yield but I was proud to have eeked out just one from vines that struggled all season to fend off squash bugs.
buttercup squash has a dense, dry, sweet flesh. Lovely for roasting, steaming, sauteing…
What better way to end a cool autumn weekend, then, than to make a chili celebrating the last of our garden harvest? In went some delicious stew pork from my favorite local farm, chard from the garden, cubes of the sweet buttercup squash, and black beans – also from our garden! – that I’d soaked overnight.
rubbed with spices – a pork spa treatment?
aren’t they gorgeous??
the finished product.
I happily cradled a bowl of this chili on a “chilly” (ha) weekend night. Methinks it would make a pretty tasty accompaniment to watching the election results roll in, tonight, too!
did you remember to vote?
Pork, Buttercup Squash & Chard Chili
an Eggs on Sunday original
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 pound pork stew meat
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
3 garlic cloves, minced
12 ounces brown ale
2 cups chicken stock
1 28-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 cup black beans*
1 buttercup squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks (you could substitute another kind of winter squash, if you like)
1 cup corn kernels (optional)
1 small bunch swiss chard, stems removed and leaves chopped into bite-sized pieces
In a medium bowl, mix together the cumin, chili powder, coriander, and smoked paprika. Add the cubes of stew pork and toss them well in the spice mixture. Season well with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, and toss again, rubbing the spices into the meat.
Heat a large heavy pot over medium-high heat, then add the olive oil – it should shimmer. Add the cubes of stew pork and let them get nice and browned on all sides. Don’t be impatient — you want them to get a nice brown crust! Once all the cubes of pork have been browned, remove them from the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside (you can just keep them on a plate to the side of the stove.)
Add the onion and garlic to the pot, and cook them over medium heat until they soften and become translucent. Don’t turn the heat on the pot up too high, or the nice brown fond that’s developed on the bottom from browning the meat will burn. When the onions have softened, add the ale and use a wooden spoon to scrape the brown bits up from the bottom of the pot.
Return the pork to the pot, and add the chicken stock and diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 1 hour (*note: if you are using dried beans that have been soaked overnight, add them now, with the pork.)
Add the butternut squash cubes to the pot, and cook for another 20 minutes. (*note: if you are using canned beans that are already cooked, you can add them at this point, with the squash cubes.)
Finally, add the chopped swiss chard and corn kernels, if you’re using. Cook for another 5-10 minutes, until the chard is bright green and wilted. Taste the chili and season with more salt or pepper as needed.