Kidney Shot

Freestyling our chili recipes is just the way we rolled around here for years: grab a few cans of beans, some veggies, canned tomatoes, and throw spices into the pot like there’s no tomorrow. It was a good system, turning out bowl after bowl of respectable chili.

But I grew tired of bean-centric chili, having always held a bias for the “no-beans” contingent in the chili divide: can’t argue with the Texans on this one! As an ironclad Northerner, this is probably the only Southern tendency you could pin on me.

You’ll find any number of Cliff Clavins ready to fill you in on how the Spanish term chili con carne translates into chilies with meat. How much did the bean lobby fork over to turn such a simple, rewarding dish into a murky stew of kidney-shaped monstrosities?

These feelings, paired with increasingly cooler days and an expiring bag of butternut squash, led me on a hunt for a meatier, paleo-friendly chili.

One recipe stood out: Butternut Squash Chili with Beef

The fourth batch finished, I’m confident we’ve finally settled on our recipe of choice. The chili’s perfect balance of beef, veggies, tomatoes, and spices is as soothing as it is satisfying. I haven’t changed a thing, expect to strain the capacity of our six-quart Kitchen Aid stockpot by doubling up the recipe for convenience. I’ll experiment with adding in more of the entire jalapeño over the next few weeks, maybe keep an eye out for peppers with more striations to kick things up a degree or two, but there’s not much else I’d change.