{recipe} Butternut Squash & Short Rib Chili

It’s cold and rainy outside, and there is really only one thing I want to eat: this chili made with butternut squash, beef short ribs, and black beans. The flavors are complex, with a hint of cocoa powder and just the right amount of heat. Top it with fresh cilantro, some crumbled Mexican queso fresco, and some fresh slices of avocado, and the winter blues will melt away.

I got this recipe from the Scaling Back blog, which is the best blog you are probably not reading. I met the author Tina Jeffers at a food photography workshop, but when you read her blog you may be inclined to agree that she probably doesn’t really need food photography classes because her pictures are gorgeous, mouth-watering, and instructive all at the same time. Her tips and recipes are well-chosen, not too difficult, and they work. Subscribe, follow, or just check in from time to time, but for goodness’ sake don’t miss out on this site. It is hands-down one of my absolute favorites, which in the crowded world of food blogs is saying quite a lot.

I reproduce the recipe here because I simplified some steps and made some small changes. As is reflected in the recipe, I do not recommend eating this the day you make it- it tastes infinitely better if you let it sit in the fridge for a day or two or three and reheat it. Enjoy – and thank you Tina for the inspiration.

Recipe: Butternut Squash & Short Rib Chili


  • 1 Tblsp live oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless short ribs, trimmed of most of the fat and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (ask your butcher to remove the bones for you)
  • 1 large onion, chopped finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 chipotle in adobo sauce, minced
  • chili flakes, cayenne, or hot spice of your choice to taste (I used a large pinch of very hot Chinese chili flakes and a large pinch of cayenne)
  • 2 Tblsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed into 1/2 inch pieces
  • cilantro leaves, crumbled queso fresco, and avocado slices to serve


  • Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season beef with salt and add to pan. Cook about 8-10 minutes, browning on all sides.
  • Add onion and cook another 8-10 minutes, until onions are soft and translucent. Add tomato paste, garlic, chipotle, cocoa, and spices and cook another 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Add wine, beans, and tomatoes with juice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cover. Simmer for 1 hour.
  • Add butternut squash and simmer for another hour, until beef and squash are tender. Cool slightly, then cover and rest in the fridge overnight.
  • To serve, reheat on the stove and serve with cilantro, queso fresco, and avocado.

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6 Responses

  1. Kimberly says:

    This recipe looks so very yummy. I will try this on the coming weekend. I love ribs, they are so tasty and juicy.

  2. oh i am so going to have to make this! awesome winter chili!

  3. ps – you weren’t kidding about scaling back blog – LOVE IT!

  4. Wine Dine says:

    Fantastic variation on a chili!