I love the idea of a slow cooker, a meal simmering away inside, unwatched, as layer upon layer of flavor develops over the hours. The reality, however, is that I’m not very good at planning my meals ahead. Which is why our slow cooker – a lovely wedding gift – has sat untouched going on seven years.
Fortunately, I can cook fast. This skill comes in incredibly handy at 10:30 at night when you’ve just gotten home from serving up pumpkin pancakes with bacon maple syrup for two and a half hours in honor of National Pumpkin Day. Unlike my satiated guests, my husband and I hadn’t eaten yet. In my ongoing effort to eating fast food for dinner after a night spent cooking farm-fresh for others, I sped past Wendy’s and McDonald’s, only to face a visit to the kitchen when I arrived home.
I took whatever I could find in the fridge – half of an uncooked, pink banana pumpkin, two Mexican chorizo sausages and half a pound of Red Boar kale. (Admittedly I do end up with some pretty good leftovers from my live cooking demos.)
About 25 minutes later my husband Jason and I sat down to a quick pumpkin chili. Though cooked briefly, the flavors were complex and satisfying. With the richness of the pumpkin, it is a meal on it’s own – no rice needed. It’s so good I may just dust off my slow-cooker, leave it out on the counter and lie.* No one will ever know.
*Except me and I couldn’t live with the guilt. Plus, I’m a terrible liar.
Quick Pumpkin, Chorizo and Kale Chile
Serves 4 – 6
This quick and easy chile is hearty enough to eat on it’s own with the rich pumpkin, spicy sausage and pleasantly bitter bite of kale. Tomato paste, a dried chile and ground cumin add wonderful depth.
- 3 tbs olive oil
- 2 links Mexican Chorizo, casings removed
- 1 red onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 cups pumpkin like Peanut or Fairy Tale, cut in 1” cubes
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 2 tbs tomato paste
- 1 dried Guajillo chile*
- 1/2 lb kale, de-ribbed and thinly sliced
- 2 tbs ground cumin
- 1/4 chopped cilantro
- 3 tbs minced chives
- Sherry vinegar
*You can find these in the international aisle of your grocery store. Use an Ancho if you can’t find Guajillo.
- Warm 2 tbs oil in a 3 qt sauté pan over medium heat. Cook Chorizo, breaking it up as it browns. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve meat, leaving oil in pan.
- Return pan to medium heat with remaining 1 tbs oil. Add onion and cook until soft, 5 min. Add garlic and cook 30 sec longer.
- Add pumpkin and cook 5 min until edges begin to brown. Return chorizo to pan with stock, tomato paste, chile and kale. Cover and cook 5-7 minutes until pumpkin can be pierced through with a knife but is still firm.
- Remove cover, season with cumin and cook until pumpkin is tender and liquid thickens. Season to taste with cilantro, chives, a splash of vinegar, salt and pepper.