My family’s Halloween meal was a miserable loose meat abomination called the spoon burger, blander than Lawrence Welk. Hoping for better traditions for the future, I’ve experimented unceasingly to create a dish that embraced my past horrors with something more seasonable on the table. Halloween, after all, equals horror and nice fall treats.

Pumpkin Chili with Cranberry Coulis

Serves four

Two small pie pumpkins

½ lb. ground pork

½ lb. ground chicken

½ lb. ground beef

6 cloves garlic, minced

Chop rough:

1 red onion

1 Serrano chili

1 green pepper

1 large tomato

1 Tbs. each fresh parsley, oregano,

and cilantro

1 cup white wine

2 Tbs. each ground cumin, paprika,

and ground New Mexico chili

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper

6 Tbs. olive oil

For the coulis:

One bag fresh cranberries

cup water

cup sugar

1 Serrano chili

Orange zest

1 pinch allspice

Cut pumpkins in half, remove the seeds, and bake (cut-side down) in an inch of water for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Bake the seeds with a smidge of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Remove all and cool.

Meanwhile, make the chili. Brown the meats in olive oil with one teaspoon garlic, salt, pepper, and one tablespoon cumin. Remove from the pan, add more oil, and saute on medium the chopped onions, garlic, and green pepper. When softened, add dried spices, wine, and the tomato. Bring it to a boil and let simmer for 20 minutes. Just before serving, stir in the fresh spices.

For the coulis: Throw everything into a pot, bring to a boil, and stir and moosh it a bit. Put it into a blender until smooth. Pour into a bowl and let it cool a bit.

To serve, mound each half pumpkin with chili. Use the coulis to make a hideous face, with dots for eyes, nose, and mouth. Make an avocado, grapefruit, and fennel salad and top it with the chopped-up seeds, lime zest, and a jolt of oil. Serve to the kids before they open their loot bags.


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