Kabocha Chili Colorado

I first tried Rick Martinez's recipe for Chili Colorado about a year ago, and every time since then I've adapted it slightly. If I'm making a special occasion, multi-component meal I still cook it as-is, but when I'm reheating leftovers after work it's extremely unlikely that I'll eat something if it takes more than one pot (my rice cooker being the exception). I found myself putting the beans I had cooked separately into the same pot as the chili to reheat, and wishing I had vegetables... The only real reason I was preparing the chili and beans separately was for “authenticity”, so I decided to stop fighting my impulses and make the recipe my own.

When I cook with dried chiles I tend to disobey rules by leaving all the seeds in and using all the soaking water, because I love bitter flavors to death. Kabocha immediately came to me as a nice pairing for this earthy, bitter chili; the sweetness melds well and provides a nice complement, and now I would miss the squash too much if I left it out. Many times I'll go ahead and add beans to the chili as well, and mayacoba/yellow beans are my favorite here. The extra richness from the beans and sweetness from the squash make the sauce even better.

My default combination of dried chiles for this recipe is pasilla, guajillo, and arbol, because those are what I always try to keep around. The most recent time I used pasilla, arbol, cherry peppers from the farmer's market, and smoked habaneros a friend made. It's flexible.

I most often eat the chili with long-grain white rice, but it's rich enough that it stands up to brown rice, and arroz rojo or an herby Spanish rice also work well. Tortillas or corn bread are just as good. Something citrusy to drink (or an orange for dessert) is nice too.

Adapted from Rick Martinez's Chili Colorado at Bon Appétit. Video here, if you need visuals.



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Kabocha Chili Colorado

Chili from April 2020, with pinto beans, smoked habanero, and roughly torn ancho chilis.