Pumpkin Pork Chili

Today I have the great honor of sharing a guest post by one of my heroes, Amy Nelson. Amy is an amazing woman who can do just about anything. She’s an amazing mom to one of the coolest kids I’ve ever met, she makes better bread than I do, she’s a nurse, she’s a homeschooler, she grows a huge fabulous garden, she loves Jesus, she and her hubby sing some pretty amazing tunes, she’s a USDA meat handler and she raises pastured pork, poultry and grass finished beef. She can pretty much do anything.

Amy Nelson

Amy Nelson

I’m a big fan of buying and eating local every chance we get; Amy makes that easier. Please visit her facebook page, Nelson Family Farm. For those of you who live local, check out what you can buy local from Amy. If you’re not local to western NC, then go looking for your local family farms. They’re out there and they’re helping us eat better!

One of the things I really appreciate about Amy is that she cooks a lot like Laura and I do….recipes are actually regarded as suggestions begging for improvisation, substitution, and improvements. Please consider this recipe for Pumpkin Pork Chili in that light.

Amy writes:

  (This recipe was developed in an effort to cook a cut of meat I totally messed up the first time. It was too dry and way overdone when I roasted it in the same manner I would have cooked a shoulder roast (Boston Butt) which is a much fattier cut that can tolerate the lack of liquid and still be juicy. In this case my failure ultimately yielded a great recipe.)

Pumpkin Pork Chili

A nice recipe, warmed by the use of aromatics and a little heat, utilizing a lean cut of pork that easily dries out if cooked incorrectly. Here it is slow-cooked with vegetables until it just falls apart. The sauce is made smooth and creamy by the addition of pumpkin puree. This was a hit at our house. Asa said it was one of the best things he had ever had…of course he says that about once a week! This is gluten-free and can easily be dairy and grain free. Throw this in the crock pot in the morning, and when you get home, dinner is ready!

  • 3 lb Nelson Family Farm ham roast
  • 1 pint jar spicy salsa (I used Abby J’s Blackhawk Black Bean and Herb) This is the only salsa I have found that I like better than home made! (Barb says, you can also make your own. Consider the Roasted Tomatillo Chipotle Salsa for this dish.)
  • 1 11oz can corn drained (omit if needed)
  • 2 15 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed (Barb says, you can cook your own dried black beans but be sure to have them thoroughly cooked before putting everything in the crockpot. Cooking your own beans is a great way to cut down on sodium)
  • 1 15 oz cans pumpkin puree (Barb says, you might still have a fresh pumpkin sitting around from Halloween that feel like cooking up and pureeing. Important note, whatever you do, do NOT used canned Pumpkin PIE MIX. It’s often in the same section as the canned pumpkin)
  • 1 lg can diced tomatoes (Barb says, if you have oven-roasted tomatoes hanging around in the freezer, these would be a delicious alternative to the canned ones)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp FRESHLY GRATED nutmeg**
  • 1/2-1 tsp whole cumin seeds TOASTED AND GROUND*
  • water or stock of your choice (Barb says, you ARE planning to use the stock you made yourself, right?)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 6 oz cream cheese (omit or substitute if dairy free)

Trim fat from roast and cut in 1″ cubes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Ideally you should brown it in a hot skillet with some cooking oil in small batches (so it doesn’t steam, but caramelizes) and then put it in the cooker, but you can just as easily toss it straight into the crockpot “naked.” (Not you, the pork.)

EXCEPT FOR THE CREAM CHEESE, add the other ingredients, and enough water to make it the “right” consistency. I think that would be just until the water comes to the top of the ingredients. I had to use a lot more because I was using dried beans that were not cooked enough, so you’ll have to use your own judgement here. Err on the side of too much if you won’t be home while it’s cooking. You can always cook off excess water, but you don’t want it to burn. 

If you have a cooker that is programmable, cook it on high for about 1-2 hours, then on low as long as you need. The meat will not dry out in the liquid, and needs to cook past the “done” point to the “falling apart” point. I cooked mine all day. 

A few minutes before you are ready to eat, chunk up the cream cheese and stir it in until melted and blended thoroughly. We topped it off with fresh chopped cilantro and served it over quinoa. You can serve it over rice or eat it by itself. Hope you enjoy! 
=====================================
amy Nelson
**Nutmeg bought whole and kept in the freezer will keep nearly indefinitely. Just take one out as you need it and grate it on a micro plane or smallest grater you have. (Or a nutmeg grater!) The flavor is remarkably better when you do this. 

*To roast cumin, toss cumin seeds into a dry hot skillet and shake around for just until you see the color start to change and smell the aroma of the oils. (This happens quickly, be careful!) Then either grind them in a bowl with the back of a spoon or in a mortar and pestle if you have one. If you don’t, this is what I consider one of those kitchen necessities. You’ll use it a lot.

AND FINALLY! A few miscellaneous remarks….In my trial run, I used too much cinnamon and had to put in about 1-2 T sugar to cut the bitterness, but I think that simply cutting back on the cinnamon as I have to 1/2 tsp will remedy this.
As I am not a recipe follower or user (I just wing it usually) I like to recognize that you can do things like use fresh pumpkin if you want, substitute acorn or butternut squash, use fresh tomatoes instead of canned, etc. I’m sure these things would only make this better. I just tried to make this as user friendly as possible for those who don’t have time to be nor want to be in the kitchen for hours. (Barb says, if you need quick and easy, go with this recipe the way Amy has written it up. If you, on the other hand, need to use your fresh pumpkin or prefer to not used canned things, you can take the extra time to do this more “scratch.” Both approaches have their place.)

I was delighted to see this recipe from Amy because I’m always looking for variety in my chilis. We love to feed large crowds with a choice of different chilis.

For a different approach to chili, check out Dave’s Southwest Chili or my White Chicken Chili, and our all-time favorite….Chile Verde.

Barb  IMG_5388

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Pumpkin Pork Chili

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 10 hours

Total Time: 10 hours, 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 lb Nelson Family Farm ham roast
  • 1 pint jar spicy salsa (I used Abby J's Blackhawk Black Bean and Herb) This is the only salsa I have found that I like better than home made!
  • 1 11oz can corn drained (omit if needed)
  • 2 15 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz cans pumpkin puree
  • 1 lg can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp FRESHLY GRATED nutmeg**
  • 1/2-1 tsp whole cumin seeds TOASTED AND GROUND*
  • water or stock of your choice
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 6 oz cream cheese (omit or substitute if dairy free)

Instructions

Trim fat from roast and cut in 1" cubes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Ideally you should brown it in a hot skillet with some cooking oil in small batches (so it doesn't steam, but caramelizes) and then put it in the cooker, but you can just as easily toss it straight into the crockpot "naked." (Not you, the pork.)

EXCEPT FOR THE CREAM CHEESE, add the other ingredients, and enough water to make it the "right" consistency. I think that would be just until the water comes to the top of the ingredients. I had to use a lot more because I was using dried beans that were not cooked enough, so you'll have to use your own judgement here. Err on the side of too much if you won't be home while it's cooking. You can always cook off excess water, but you don't want it to burn.

If you have a cooker that is programmable, cook it on high for about 1-2 hours, then on low as long as you need. The meat will not dry out in the liquid, and needs to cook past the "done" point to the "falling apart" point. I cooked mine all day.

A few minutes before you are ready to eat, chunk up the cream cheese and stir it in until melted and blended thoroughly. We topped it off with fresh chopped cilantro and served it over quinoa. You can serve it over rice or eat it by itself. Hope you enjoy!

http://www.mysisterskitchenonline.com/2013/11/02/pumpkin-pork-chili/


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