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Pumpkin and Ground Beef Chili

Pumpkin and Ground Beef Chili perfect for the Autumn table // Karista's Kitchen

This spiced pumpkin and ground beef chili didn’t last long in my house. It was gone by the second day and of course, that’s when I think chili tastes best.

This chili is slightly spiced with cinnamon and smoked paprika, flavored with fresh aromatics, vegetables, grass-fed ground beef and of course, a good beer. It’s rich in flavor and hearty in texture and it tastes like Autumn in a bowl!

Adding pumpkin or squash to chili during the fall season adds a festive quality to this dish.  Each year I experiment using different spices in my pumpkin and ground beef chili and I have to say my favorite combination is a bit of Korinje cinnamon and smoked paprika – along with my traditional chili spice blend.

Pumpkin and Ground Beef Chili perfect for the Autumn table // Karista's Kitchen

In addition to my lovely Karista’s Kitchen spices, which you can currently find in the Karista’s Kitchen store, I love adding beer to my chili. A flavorful pilsner, which is what I use, light red ale or cream stout are excellent beer choices for chili.

Using beer in chili adds another layer of flavor and compliments the vegetables and spices as well as the ground beef. I don’t recommend using beer that is high in IBU (International Bitterness Units), like an IPA, because it’ll make your chili taste bitter. I adore sipping IPA’s but I don’t recommend using an IPA in chili.

I also prepare a vegetarian version of this chili using only the roasted pumpkin and beans. Although my crew enjoys the ground beef version, they also adore this cozy vegetarian version as well. 

Must I wrestle the pumpkin you might ask? No need. I cut the sugar pie pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds, rub with a little oil and place flesh side down in a baking dish. Then I fill the baking dish with about an inch of water and roast at 350F. until just slightly under cooked. Once the pumpkin has cooled, the skin is easily removed and you can dice the pumpkin for the chili. Don’t worry about uniform diced pumpkin, just dice it up however you like and once it’s in the chili it’ll look fabulous.

This pumpkin and ground beef chili is flavorful and satisfying and I know it will add a flair of festivity to your fall and holiday season.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Pumpkin Love!


Pumpkin and Ground Beef Chili

Serving Size: 4-6

Pumpkin and Ground Beef Chili


  • 1 3-4lb sugar pie pumpkin(you will need 2 cups cubed cooked pumpkin)
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef
  • 1/4 cup corn flour or 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon Karista's Kitchen Korinje Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Karista's Kitchen Smoked Paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 12 ounce bottle of pilsner beer (or red ale/cream stout)
  • 1-2 cups beef or vegetable broth
  • 1 15 ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 ounce can of kidney beans or chili beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • Serve with sour cream, chopped cilantro, green onions and cheddar cheese


  • Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
  • Cut the sugar pie pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds. Brush the flesh with 1-2 tablespoons of the olive oil and then place the pumpkin halves flesh side down in a baking dish. Add about 1 inch of water in the baking dish and then place it in the oven. You want to slightly under bake the pumpkin so that you can cube it for the chili. Bake the pumpkin for about 20 minutes and then check for tenderness. If it's still a bit hard, bake the pumpkin for another 10 minutes or until it's tender but still firm. Remove from the oven and let it cool.
  • In a large pot over medium high heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and sauté just until it's tender. Then add the garlic and the ground beef. While you're cooking the ground beef, mix in the 1/4 cup of corn flour or corn starch. Stir in the cinnamon, smoked paprika, chili powder, coriander, cumin, brown sugar and pinch of cayenne.
  • Once the ground beef is mostly cooked, don't over cook, add the tomato paste and beer. Stir until incorporated. Then add the 2 cans of beans, dried bay leaf and at least one cup of broth. Reserve the second cup of broth and use it as needed.
  • Let the chili simmer on low for about 30 minutes to develop all the lush flavors.
  • While your simmering the chili, peel and cube the cooled pumpkin.
  • Gently stir the 2 cups pumpkin cubes into the chili and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add additional broth if needed.
  • Serve with sour cream, chopped cilantro, green onion and cheddar cheese if desired. This chili will keep for about 3-4 days in the refrigerator. But I honestly don't think it'll be there in three days 🙂 .
  • Notes

    Ack! I completely forgot the brown sugar in the recipe so I've just updated.

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    Karista's Kitchen Pork Tips and Techniques

    Spanish Chili (Carcamusa) from the book Charcuteria: The Soul of Spain

    Carcamusa a Spanish Style Chili with chorizo, pork loin, pork shoulder, jamon ham, tomato frito, piquillo peppers and peas // Karista's Kitchen

    I’ve dog-eared almost every recipe in this book – Charcuteria: The Soul of Spain by Chef Jeffery Weiss.  It’s taken me almost two weeks to finish reading it; not due to lack of time but because every page is so fascinating I couldn’t skip a word.

    When my friend Traca Savadogo asked if I’d like to review this book, I jumped at the chance.  I’ve heard some words of praise for this book but I haven’t had the chance to read it and it definitely piques my interest.  Chef Weiss has more than 15 years experience as a professional chef, working with some of the most well-known and celebrated chefs of our time.  Chef Weiss is one of a select few Americans to earn the prestigious ICEX Culinary scholarship that allowed him to live in Spain, learn its regional cuisines and cook in the kitchens of top Spanish chefs.

    Charcuteria: The Soul of Spain by Chef Jeffery Weiss

    When the book arrived in the mail, I got that butterfly in the stomach, thrill of excitement one feels when getting a new book.  I couldn’t finish my work fast enough so I could sit on my sofa with a cup of tea and dive in.  I am deeply enamored with culinary anthropology and where does this gorgeous book begin?   With Spanish gastronomy and culinary history, along with a foreward by the James Beard award-winning chef, Jose Andres .  I was in culinary book heaven.   Lavish and comprehensive, the cookbook describes the history and evolution of various forms of Spanish charcuterie, Spanish pork butchery, charcuterie basics with recipes and photos that will make you want to eat the page.

    Charcuteria: The Soul of Spain by Jeffery Weiss

    Charcuteria not only features 100 mouth-watering recipes, it gives a detailed, informative and educational look at the traditional meat-curing and butchering techniques from the Iberian Peninsula; a spellbinding read of this unique Spanish tradition.  I’m not kidding when I tell you, Spain will be on your bucket list after reading this book.  And Spanish cuisine and the art of charcuterie will be your new food love.

    Although I can appreciate and enjoy every charcuterie and recipe in this book, some of the ingredients may not be easy to find depending where you live; and some of us may not have a taste for a particular ingredient.  Yes, I’m speaking of blood sausages.  I think the two things I have never had an affinity for are blood sausages and haggis. I can prepare them, I just don’t eat them.  I often wish I had the adventurous palate of Anthony Bourdain.

    So which recipe to cook for this review?  That was the question of the week.  I couldn’t decide, so I prepared three.

    Habas con Jamon – a fresh dish of fava beans, basic sofrito, jamon ham, spring onions and mint leaves.

    Garbanzos con Butifarra Negra – a dish of chickpeas, onions, flat leaf parsley, mint leaves, garlic, Butifarra Negra sausages, toasted pine nuts and spinach leaves.

    Carcamusa – a Spanish Chili prepared with pork loin, pork collar, chorizo, onions, jamon, garlic, piquillo confit peppers, tomato frito and peas. This gorgeous dish is served family style with fresh bread for dunking.

    Charcuteria: The Soul of Spain by Chef Jeffery Weiss

    The flavors abound in these dishes – dancing on your palate while making one want to turn on the Spanish music and daydream of dining in Spain.

    These recipes are so fantastic, two of the dishes were devoured long before I could snap a photo. I managed to reign in my hungry crew to snap a few photos before they started on the Carcamusa, a Spanish chili of sorts.  It was such an impressive recipe my family has requested it several times.

    Because I live in the Willamette Valley, rich in locally raised pork, I’m usually able to find most ingredients for sausage and charcuterie.  I haven’t prepared any of the charcuterie recipes yet, but I did locate an authentic Spanish Cantimpalos-style chorizo that is divine.  Spanish jamon is typically easy to find at most gourmet markets or your local butcher or sausage vendor.  Fresh piquillo peppers are not in season here as of yet, so I substituted with jarred roasted piquillo peppers.  In the Carcamusa recipe, I list the original version of the recipe with a few substitutions.

    A very long list of recipes to prepare from this book remains on my desk.  If I can keep my crew from diving in before photos, hopefully I’ll share a few more recipes with you.  One lazy weekend in the near future I’ll be trying my hand at making chorizo – always one of my favorite charcuterie.   Charcuteria: The Soul of Spain has been an immense pleasure to read.  What a delightful culinary treasure to have in my library of books for generations to come.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Spanish Chili (Carcamusa) from the book Charcuteria: The Soul of Spain

    Serving Size: 4-6

    Spanish Chili (Carcamusa) from the book Charcuteria: The Soul of Spain


    • 1/4 cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil
    • 18 ounces (500g) pork loin, cut into large dice
    • 18 ounces (500g) pork collar (I substituted with pork shoulder), cut into large dice
    • Kosher salt as needed
    • 4 Cantimpalos-style or Riojano-style Chorizo sausages, cut into small dice (I used 2 Cantimpalos style Chorizo, these are dry cured sausages not ground meat)
    • 5 ounces (150g) diced Jamon or Lacon Cocido
    • 1 medium yellow onion, small diced
    • 5 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 fresh bay leaves (I used one dry bay leaf)
    • 4 Piquillo Confit Peppers, minced (recipe follows) or (I used 4-6 jarred roasted piquillo peppers instead of making confit as I couldn't find fresh piquillo peppers)
    • 1 quart (950ml) Tomato Frito (recipe follows)
    • 11 ounces frozen peas
      For the Piquillo Confit Peppers
    • 2.2lbs (1kg) of medium fresh piquiilo peppers
    • 1/2 cup (125ml) extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/4 cup (85g) honey, such as rosemary, thyme or orange blossom
    • 2/3 ounce (20g) kosher salt
    • 1 ounce (25g) sugar
    • 10 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
    • 10 springs fresh thyme
    • 1 fresh bay leaf
      For the Tomato Frito
    • 2.2 lbs (1kg) of fresh tomatoes or canned San Marzano tomatoes
    • 1/2 cup (125ml) good Spanish extra virgin olive lil, such as piqual
    • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced into thin julienne
    • 10 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thinly
    • Kosher salt to taste
    • Granulated sugar to taste
    • Freshly ground black pepper to taste


  • In a medium saucepan, warm the oil over medium-high heat until rippling but not smoking.
  • Season the meats with salt and pepper and add it to the saucepan. Sear for 4-6 minutes, until the meat is browned. You may have to brown in batches. Transfer the meat to a bowl and set aside.
  • Add the sausages and jamon to the saucepan.
  • Sauté for 10 minutes, until the sausage's fat has rendered. Transfer the sausages and the jamon to the bowl containing the meats.
  • Add the onion, garlic and bay leaves to the saucepan and season with the salt. Sauté for 15-20 minutes, until the onions are very soft and starting to brown. Add the Piquillo Confit (or jarred roasted Piquillo peppers) and sauté 10 minutes, until their liquid has evaporated. (I left a little liquid)
  • Add the tomato frito and the reserved meats. Bring the Carcamusa to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium. Simmer for 15 minutes more (I simmered for about 30 minutes) until the meat is soft and cooked through. Add the peas and warm through, then remove the stew from the heat and serve warm with crusty bread pieces.
  • For the Piquillo Confit Peppers
  • In a blender or the bowl of a food processor fitted with the S blade, combine 1/4 of the peppers, the oil the honey and the salt. Blend or process on high, scraping down the sides, until the confit mixture becomes liquid. Set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 250F (120C).
  • Arrange the remaining peppers in a baking dish. Add the garlic, thyme and bay leaf. Pour the confit liquid over the top. Cover with foil.
  • Bake the peppers for 2 hours. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool to room temperature. Serve Warm.
  • For the Tomato Frito
  • Make a sofrito - In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil for 4 minutes, until just rippling but not smoking. Add the onions and garlic and season with the salt. Cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are very soft but have not taken on color.
  • Using a pair of kitchen shears, cut up the tomatoes into rough pieces. If you are using fresh tomatoes, chop them roughly.
  • Raise the heat to high. Add the tomatoes and season them to taste with the sugar, salt and black pepper. Fry the tomatoes in the sofrito for 5-10 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring frequently for 30-40 minutes until most the water has cooked out of the tomatoes. Remove from the heat.
  • Process the mixture through a food mill with a fine screen (if you don't have one you can use a chinois or other fine strainer) into a large mixing bowl. If necessary, repeat until the puree is smooth. Taste the sauce and re-season as necessary with salt and black pepper.
  • If using the Tomato Frito immediately, transfer to a large food safe container and set aside to cool at room temperature. Cover and chill the sauce overnight. The Tomato Frito can also be canned in sterilized containers.
  • Notes

    The Piquillo Confit is delicious with grilled meats and poultry, should you find the fresh peppers and decide to prepare the confit.

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    Beef Chicken Kid Friendly vegetarian

    Cowgirl Chili

    You’re probably wondering what in the heck is Cowgirl Chili.  Well, in our house, the girls out number the boys 3 to 1.  So when my two gals and I are developing new family friendly or college friendly meals, they like to “personalize” the recipes with a bit of girl power.

    Not that boys wouldn’t love this chili, but this particular recipe was inspired by my youngest gal’s love of all things spicy, not to mention her intense love of chocolate.   An ounce of dark chocolate is the last ingredient stirred into this rich and decadent chili.

    So boys beware, you’re gonna love Cowgirl Chili.  And parents, if you have a house full of boys you’re more than welcome to re-name the recipe in honor of your little Cowboys!   Yee Haw!


    1 lb natural or organic ground beef or Isernios ground chicken

    1 large yellow onion, chopped

    4 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

    1 teaspoon Chipotle chili powder

    1 teaspoon ground cumin

    ½ teaspoon black pepper

    1 teaspoon kosher salt

    2 15oz cans fire roasted diced tomatoes (I like Muir Glen)

    2 15 oz can organic black beans, drained and rinsed

    1 15 oz can organic kidney beans, drained and rinsed

    1 12oz bottle of beer (dark tastes best, but whatever is in your frig will do)

    1 oz square bittersweet chocolate, chopped

    Condiments: sour cream, sliced avocados, shredded cheddar cheese, green onions and tortilla chips


    Heat a large stock pot on medium high heat and brown the meat.  Once the meat has been nicely browned, add the onion and garlic.  Cook until the onion has softened, about 5 minutes.  If the beef has rendered too much fat, drain off all but one tablespoon.

    Next, stir in the chili powder, ground cumin, salt, pepper, tomatoes, and beans.  Add the beer and bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and let it simmer for about 15-30 minutes.  If the chili needs to be thinned, add about ½ cup chicken or vegetable broth to the chili.  Before serving, stir in the 1 ounce square of chocolate until it has fully incorporated into the chili.

    Serve in bowls and garnish with shredded cheddar, sour cream, green onions, avocado slices and tortilla chips.

    Options:  For a less spicy chili, decrease the chipotle chili powder to ½ teaspoon.  If you can’t find chipotle chili powder, add one diced canned chipotle in adobo.  Chipotle in Adobo sauce can be found in the Mexican food section of your local market.  Chipotle Chili powder can be found at most local grocers, or specialty markets in the spice aisle.

    This can also be a tasty vegetarian chili.  Try preparing this without the ground beef or chicken and use an extra can or two of white or red kidney beans, pinto beans or black beans.

    Slow Cooker method:  Prepare the chili as directed and then transfer to a slow cooker.  Let it simmer on low for 4-5 hours.  The longer this chili simmers the deeper the flavors become.  It’s even better the next day, so feel free to prepare this recipe in advance.  Keep it in the frig for up to three days, freeze for up to three months.