I have a case of the Monday’s. There wasn’t anything specific but today just seemed to drag like only Monday’s can. The life of a post-quals grad student is even less glamorous than you might imagine. Sure, I do fun stuff like cloning and play with microscopes that cost more than my lifetime cumulative income, but there are some seriously slow days in between all the fun stuff. In fact, today I spent the majority of my time filling out my lab notebook, organizing my illegal snack drawer (no food allowed in lab for obvious reasons… Good thing I’m the safety officer!) and throwing away old papers. The frequent need to snack on the Whole30 helped to break up the monotony a bit because there is no sneaky way to eat a sweet potato at my desk. The smell alone would give me away! So it’s a perfect excuse to take a break and get some fresh air. Even with multiple outdoor snacking walks this afternoon was excruciating. Good thing I had a great dinner to look forward to!
Chili is one of my favorite cold weather meals. I had planned to make it today and despite the unseasonably warm weather I stuck to the plan. After a long swim practice last night and a long Monday at lab I just wanted something hot, hearty and filling. Everyone has their favorite chili recipe and all of them are delicious. I’m sure some of them are more delicious than this one, but here is mine. It’s a combination of a Cooks Illustrated recipe, one my friend Farrar gave me that has long since been lost, and whatever happens to be on the brink of going bad in the fridge. Warning, the extra veggies and sweet potatoes make this more a sweet, rather than spicy dish. If you’re really missing that sour cream and cheese (I was) add some avocado! I know it seems to be my solution to everything but that’s only because it always works!
Chili in acorn squash (makes about 3 qts of chili, easily serving 8-10)
2 lbs ground beef
1 smaller red pepper, chopped
1 smaller green pepper, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, diced
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large or 2 smaller sweet potatoes
1 28oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup stock (beef, turkey, chicken)
1 1/2 tbs tomato paste (got leftover tomato paste?)
1 tbs ground cumin
3 tbs chili powder
2 tsp ground corriander
1 tsp dried oregano
half as many acorn squash as people you want to feed (we’re cutting them in half for serving)
salt, pepper to taste
Add oil and sweet potatoes to Dutch oven over medium. Give sweet potatoes a good 10 minute head start until they start to soften then add peppers, onion, garlic and spices. Cook until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Push veg to the side and add beef, separating with a wooden spoon until brown. Add tomatoes, stock, and tomato paste and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook for another hour.
While chili is cooking cut acorn squashes in half and hollow out seeds to form a bowl. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and roast on 375 for about an hour or until soft.
Scour the inside of the squash with a dull knife (this is also a good test to make sure it’s done) and ladle in as much chili as will fit.