Beetroot Chili

I’ve been giving this a lot of thought as I’m planning what I want to cook this October, and I have determined that there are 4 categories of October/Halloween food:

  1. Harvesty
  2. Spooky
  3. Cutesy
  4. Gross

I (obviously) love harvesty and spooky Halloween food, and I don’t generally make but will surely eat your cutesy little witches’ hats and Satan’s eggs with little baby horns and goatees, but the category I can’t abide is the last one. I cannot take slimy, disgusting, creepy Halloween food. It’s just too unsettling to eat something that looks so revolting. I do not care how delicious the bloody fingers or veiny eyeballs or slimy sluggy worms are, am not interested. Gross.

I do however, like the technically spooky and harvesty foods that toe the line – like doesn’t any soup or stew with beets look a little like….blood?

I love beets so much, sanguineous or not. I often roast a bunch on the weekend (it’s easy, just coat with a little olive oil and wrap in foil, then roast until tender – the skin will peel right off) and eat them throughout the week in salads and soups. The kiddies love them too.

Beets are a striking addition to this chili, which is not sophisticated enough for a vampire, as they would likely be slurping up a velvety velouté, but may be the perfect thing for werepeople who crave red meat (and root vegetables?). Chili has also become my Halloween night tradition, as it’s easy to throw together when I come home from work, then leave on the turned-off stove as we take the kids trick-or-treating and crank it back up when we return. It also feeds a crowd; we always invite company, our friends and family – or ghosties and ghoulies – that want to share.

Beetroot Chili

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • salt & pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala (if you don’t have this it’s fine, maybe just a pinch of cinnamon or omit)
  • 1 can fire-roasted tomatoes (or just diced is fine)
  • 2 cans beans (black, kidney, or a mix), drained and rinsed
  • 2 beets, roasted, peeled and chopped
  • chipotles in adobo to taste – tsp of just sauce up to 2 chopped chilis. I usually just add the adobo because then it’s not too spicy for the kids, and serve the chopped chilis on the side for everyone else.
  • Sour cream, pumpkin seeds, limes, and chopped green onions for garnish

Heat olive oil medium high in a heavy bottomed pan, and sauté onion with a good pinch of salt and pepper until translucent. Add garlic and sauté for a few minutes, then slide them to the side and crank heat up to high. Brown the meat with another sprinkle of salt, then add the paprika, cumin, and garam masala and stir for a minute or two. Add tomatoes, beans, beets, chipotles and a cup of water and mix well, making sure to scrape up anything on the bottom of the pan.

Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Adjust liquid (whether you like it thick or soupy) and salt if necessary.

Serve with garnishes.