It is COLD here, and has been snowing for several days straight. Not a lot – not enough to cancel school, much to The Young One’s disappointment – but there’s a couple of inches out there. Yesterday we spent the days indoors, a fire in the fireplace. and the fellas played video games (Epic Mickey is, well, epic) while I made what turned out to be the best pot of chili that’s ever come out of my kitchen. I can’t say exactly why it came out as good as it did – perhaps it was the grass-finished round tip roast we cut up into cubes, or the homemade beef stock, or that I used far fewer beans than usual, or maybe the peppers were just right this time, but it was absolutely delicious. I’m not normally one for leftover chili (Beloved loves it, though) but I’ll eat this today for lunch with pleasure.
However, once chili was on the menu, I was at a loss for what to make with it. Once upon a time I’d have made corn bread; in the months before we cut grains out of our diet it would have been Southwestern Spoon Bread. Beloved and I often talk about what we’d go off of our diet for – he says he’d do it for his favorite pizza; this spoon bread tops my Hit Parade (although, after Thanksgiving I wonder if either of us would enjoy such indulgences as much as we think we would).
The last time I made chili, I was inspired by my recent success with a maple butternut squash souffle to try to spice up a similar dish alá the spoon bread and see how it would come out. It was okay, but too dense and heavy. After thinking about it a bit, I decided to give it another whirl. So I cut out the cheese and egg yolk and increased the egg whites to three (we had the yolks this morning in our scrambled eggs for breakfast – yum!) and it was much, much better. Next time, I will add a touch of shredded cheese to the top before I bake it and see if I can’t achieve perfection.
This would be a great side dish for just about any main course, not just chili. It’s certainly not the same old, same old.
Chipotle Butternut Squash Souffle
1 large butternut squash, about 2 pounds
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 small onion, diced
chipotle pepper in adobo
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 roasted red bell pepper, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
3 egg whites
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 350º F. Butter a 6-cup souffle dish, or a 1 1/2 quart casserole, well.
Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and pulp in the middle. Place it cut side down on a shallow baking sheet that’s been lightly brushed with olive oil. Roast for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the squash is tender and the thickest part is easily pierced with a fork.
Alternately, if you are pressed for time, you can place the cleaned squash cut side down in a microwave safe dish with a little water and microwave for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the squash is tender and the thickest part is easily pierced with a fork. If you have the time, though, I recommend roasting the squash as it will give the dish a superior flavor (you can roast the squash ahead of time and refrigerate until you’re ready to assemble and bake the souffle).
While the squash is roasting, remove the seeds and veins from the chipotle pepper and mince it finely (you can leave the seeds and veins in if you like things spicy); add enough of the adobo sauce to the minced pepper to make a tablespoon and set aside.
Melt the butter in a small, heavy skillet over medium low heat and cook the onion until it is tender and almost translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in the red bell pepper, chipotle pepper and ground coriander seeds; remove from the heat and set aside.
When the squash is roasted allow to sit briefly until cool enough to handle. Scoop the pulp into a large mixing bowl, season with the salt and pepper; add the red pepper flakes and red bell pepper mixture. Mash together with a fork until well mixed.
In another large, clean, glass or metal mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with a mixer until stiff but not dry. Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the squash mixture with a rubber or silicone spatula until completely incorporated.
Increase the oven temperature to 375º F. Scrape the mixture into the buttered souffle dish or casserole, smooth the top with the spatula and sprinkle with the shredded cheese. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.