When the evenings start to get darker and chillier, what could be better than a big pot of Beef and Pumpkin Chilli cooking away in the slow cooker all day, ready for a quick and easy meal come dinner time?
At this time of year I find myself sad and happy all at once. Sad that summer really is over, the days are getting chillier and the evenings are getting darker. But happy because it always feels like such a magical time of year, filled with various birthdays and celebrations, pretty lights and glitter…and that feeling of Christmas approaching that still has me excited, despite no longer being a child.
It also makes me happy because I can truly start to indulge in my favourite kind of food…slow cooked stews, curries, chillies, tagines – comfort food in all its glory. I love this kind of food for two main reasons…one is obviously it tastes amazing! I love slow cooked stews where the meat is so tender that it is almost falling apart and the sauce has reduced and concentrated and transformed into something far more delicious than the sum of its parts.
The other reason is because it is just so easy! Throw a few things in a pot and leave to do its thing in the oven or the slow cooker until we are ready to eat. No standing at the stove for ages, not last minute panics, no sudden dread when I realise it’s nearly dinner time and I’ve forgotten to defrost something crucial – just that unadulterated smugness for a good chunk of the day, knowing that dinner is already sorted…and the enjoyment of the delicious smells of dinner wafting through the house.
This Slow Cooked Beef and Pumpkin Chilli is exactly the sort of slow cooked comfort food I love. The sauce is deep and rich and just spicy enough to compliment the beef, the beef is meltingly tender and utterly delicious and the pumpkin provides a lovely contrast – a pop of sweetness against the savoury beef and sauce.
This slow cooked version of chilli con carne can be made in the slow cooker or the oven, depending on what you prefer and how much time you’ve got. In an oven cook for 2-3 hours, adding the pumpkin, red pepper and black beans in for the last hour. In the slow cooker cook for 5-6 hours on high or 8-10 hours on low, adding the pumpkin in at the start, and adding the red pepper and black beans in for the last 1 hour on high or 2 hours on low.
If you are going to be out all day, you can add everything in at the start, but bear in mind the red pepper and black beans will get quite soft and lose their distinctiveness a bit – I prefer them to have a bit of texture, but if that doesn’t bother you too much, add them in at the start for an even easier meal! For full instructions see the recipe below.
I have used black beans in this chilli as I really love them, plus they are supposed to be super good for you…and the tinned version are finally available in my local supermarket – hooray! But if you prefer, you can always use kidney beans, pinto beans, haricot beans or whatever bean you prefer in your beef chilli!
And if you don’t have any pumpkin, or it’s the wrong season when you are reading this, it will work just as well with butternut squash.
This recipe is very flexible and can be made with either beef mince or diced stewing beef – go with whichever you prefer, they are both very good!
I like to serve this with white rice, salsa and guacamole. Or alternatively you can do what I did for the photos and serve with little bowls of chopped up avocado, tomatoes and red onions (marinate the red onions in lime juice for 5 minutes to stop them from being so harsh tasting). This chilli also goes fabulously with tortillas, tortilla chips, brown rice, or even just good old crusty bread, if you want to keep things really simple.
Wine-wise, this needs something with guts. Go with a big hearty red such as an Argentinian Malbec, Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon or a Californian Zinfandel. A young-ish Rioja would also work well (look out for the word Joven or Crianza on the label).
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 onions (red or white), diced
- 1 kg beef mince or stewing beef, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, crushed or grated
- 1 teaspoon chilli flakes (or to taste)
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 400g pumpkin or butternut squash, cut into bite sized chunks
- 2 red peppers, cut into bite sized chunks
- 2 x 400g tins black beans, drained
- Rice, tortilla chips or soft tortillas to serve
- Guacamole and salsa, or finely diced onion, tomatoes and avocado to serve
- If using the oven, preheat to 160C/140C Fan/Gas Mark 3.
- Place the olive oil and onions in a large pan and fry over a gentle heat for 5 minutes until softened but not brown. Turn the heat up and add the beef. Fry for 3 minutes or until the beef and onions are browned.
- Lower the heat again and add the garlic, chilli and spices. Cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper and bring to the boil.
- Oven: Transfer the chilli to a lidded ovenproof dish and cook for 1-2 hours. Remove from the oven, add the pumpkin, red pepper and black beans and cook for a further 1 hour or until the pumpkin is soft and the beef is tender.
- Slow Cooker on high: Add the pumpkin and bring back to the boil. Transfer the chilli to your slow cooker and cook for 4-5 hours. Add the red pepper and black beans and cook for a further 1 hour or until the pumpkin is soft and the beef is tender.
- Slow Cooker on low: Add the pumpkin and bring back to the boil. Transfer the chilli to your slow cooker and cook for 6-8 hours. Add the red pepper and black beans and cook for a further 2 hours or until the pumpkin is soft and the beef is tender.
If you can’t be home when the vegetables need to go into the slow cooker simply put them in from the start. They will lose their texture a little but will otherwise be fine. You may even prefer it this way, if you are not keen on vegetables!
Love beef? Check out my collection of Easy Peasy Beef Recipes…
Love Mexican Food? Find more easy peasy Mexican inspired recipes here…
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