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Dark Days Week 2: Pumpkin Chocolate Chili - Backyard Grocery

Dark Days Week 2: Pumpkin Chocolate Chili

venison pumpkin chocolate chili

Venison, pumpkin, chocolate...awesome chili.

This week’s Dark Days Challenge really was a challenge. Work was insane and left me about zero time to think about cooking. The madness should be over by Wednesday, and I’ll have the rest of the year to just think about food.

Speaking of thinking about food, the inspiration for this week’s recipe came from a great new food blog I found called…get this… “All Day I Dream About Food.” I think that may be one of the best blog names I’ve ever seen. Carolyn mostly writes about low-carb and gluten free, which are perfect for how I want to eat (note I say want…I’m still battling the bread and potatoes demon; two things that just aren’t good for me).

I stumbled across this Chocolate Pumpkin Chili and had to try it. In terms of the Dark Days Challenge, it’s a little local, mostly organic. The venison, as with all my venison, came from within 20 miles of our home. The pumpkin came from a local Virginia farm (although I will admit I got it at the store, I didn’t pick it), as did the onion. The Serrano peppers came from our summer garden. I froze them and will have great peppers all winter. The canned tomatoes are organic (couldn’t find local), as is all the chocolate. I was looking for Virginia chocolate suppliers, but had to settle for organic. All the spices I had in the cupboard.

I made a few modifications from Carolyn’s recipe. She called for roasted pumpkin. Alas, my cute little sugar pumpkin had molded, so I could use it. I pulled out the pumpkin puree from the freezer instead. I swapped her jalapeno for my Serranos, and her beef for venison.

The result: a nice little hot/sweet combination. The pumpkin really added to the texture and flavor.


Recipe: Venison Pumpkin Chocolate Chili

Summary: From “All Day I Dream About Food.” Smoky, sweet, delicious


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 Serrano peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1 lb ground venison
  • 2 14-oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 lb pumpkin puree
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
  • 2 tbsp agave nectar

making pumpkin chocolate chili

  1. Heat the oil in a stock pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the Serranos, garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, cinnamon and chipotle powder and for about 1 minute (until fragrant).
  2. Add the venison and cook through.
  3. Stir in the pumpkin, tomatoes, cocoa powder, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 to 60 minutes, until slightly thickened.
    making pumpkin chocolate chili
  4. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until melted. Taste and add agave nectar as needed (how much you need will depend on how sweet your pumpkin is and/or the quality of your chocolate. I used 2 tablespoons in this batch.)

Quick notes

Serve in a bowl as dinner, or use as a hearty meat dip…that what I did for my husband’s hunt club holiday party. Everyone who ate it loved it, which is saying something as most of these guys think sauce on an overdone steak is the height of adventurous eating!

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)

Cooking time: 45 minute(s)

Diet tags: High protein, Gluten free

Number of servings (yield): 8

Copyright © Susan Rose.

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