Short Rib and Pumpkin Chili

By Pete
September 22, 2015

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes:

At first glance, this thing looks daunting. But once you've assembled the ingredients, it really is pretty straightforward. I've taken a more than a few liberties on traditional chili. I've used inspirations from a Bon Appétit squash chili recipe, a Washington Post lamb chili recipe, and a Food Lab (Serious Eats) recipe. The short ribs give a heartiness that you just won't get from ground beef or even stew meat. I prefer bone-in ribs, as boneless meat won't give the chili the same complexity and texture. I like the hints of mole using the chocolate, and the background notes of coffee.


Food52 Review: WHO: Pete is a fairly new member of the Food52 community. This is his first finalist!
WHAT: A hearty, super-autumnal short rib chili with all our favorite things (chocolate! coffee! beer!) in it.
HOW: Braise short ribs, then stew them with a hefty spice mixture, beer, coffee, and chocolate. Stir in chili veterans (tomatoes, black beans) and chunks of pumpkin for a one-pot, all-fall meal.
WHY WE LOVE IT: As Pete says, this chili has a sizable ingredient list—but the result is an ideal chili for fall's cooler weather (and it stays true to its one-pot claim). It's smoky, but each ingredient still shines through—and it's stick-too-your-ribs hearty.
The Editors

Serves: 8


  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon hot Spanish pimentón (or other hot, smoked paprika)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 5 pounds short ribs (bone-in, or 3 pounds boneless)
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup gochujang (Korean chili paste)*
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Maggi seasoning (or 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce)
  • 2 12-ounce bottles oatmeal stout beer
  • 1/2 cup espresso (or strong coffee)
  • 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate (or 1 tablespoon unsweetened powdered chocolate)
  • 1 tablespoon masa harina (or corn meal) mixed into 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15.5-ounce can black beans
  • 3 cups more or less cubed, peeled cooking pumpkin (1/2-inch cubes). Can substitute butternut squash.
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Hot sauce of choice, jalapeño rings, sour cream/Mexican creme, shredded cheese, chopped cilantro (for garnish)
In This Recipe


  1. *In place of gochujang, you can use another Asian chili paste, or use the peppers from a can of chipotles en adobo: Finely chop 2 of the chipotles and mix together with 1 tablespoon of the adobo sauce. It’s a totally different flavor profile but more common to find.
  2. Combine the chili powder, ground coriander, ground cumin, dried oregano, dried thyme, and pimentón (smoked paprika) in a small bowl.
  3. Season the ribs with salt and pepper.
  4. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or large ovenproof braising pan over medium-high heat. Working in batches as needed, brown the ribs, transferring them to a platter as they are done.
  5. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  6. Add the onions to the oil, stirring to coat and scraping the pan to release any browned bits from the searing. Cook for about 4 minutes, until lightly browned, then add the garlic; cook for about 30 seconds, then stir in the gochujang, tomato paste, soy sauce, Maggi seasoning, and the chili powder-spice mixture. Cook for about 1 minute, then stir in 1 1/2 bottles of the beer into the chili; drink the other half of the second bottle. (A total of 16 to 18 ounces of beer should end up in the chili.) Add the coffee, chocolate, masa harina, and tomatoes. Add the seared ribs and cook, stirring a few times, until the mixture reaches a brisk simmer. Transfer the covered pot to the oven and cook for 3 1/2 hours or until the meat is tender and falling apart.
  7. Stir pumpkin, black beans, and brown sugar into the chili. Continue cooking until the pumpkin is tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven. Remove the ribs from the pan and allow to cool enough to handle. Remove meat from ribs (if using bone-in ribs). The meat should be fall-apart tender. Discard bones or save them for your dog. Using two forks, coarsely shred the meat and return to the chili. Season to taste with salt.
  8. Spoon chili into bowls and garnish with hot sauce, shredded cheese, sour cream, jalapeno rings, and cilantro (or some combination thereof, depending on tastes).

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Reviews (44) Questions (2)

44 Reviews

Jacob February 18, 2018
Made my own rendition of this recipe. Great guide. Baked 3 mid-sized yams and mashed them in instead of pumpkin, which allowed me to skip the addition of extra sugar and corn meal/product for thickening. Went the stove top route simmer instead of the oven and it worked like a charm. Recommend going a little heavier on the coriander as it pairs well with the coffee.
allekas November 5, 2017
I made a gluten-free version of this to great success last night. GF oatmeal stout is a bit of a unicorn and the darkest GF beer I could find was a Ghostfish Pale Ale. It worked fine. Similarly the gochujang and maggi are out, but sambal oelek and Worcestershire are worthy subs. All the flavors came together as something greater - rich, smoky, with a good amount of well-played heat. I used a multi-purpose stockpot - I think a 12QT with about an 11" base - in the oven at 350. It was done in 3 hours. The pumpkin took about 40 minutes - I doubled it and the beans and I'm glad I did. You can also leave out the beans entirely - we had a bean allergy at the table too so pulled some of the ribs and sauce to a smaller pan and added pumpkin only; again worked great. I had no problem removing bones - as soon as I added the pumpkin and stirred at 3h, the meat shredded itself and the bones came clean. My daughter who hates leftovers specifically asked me to save what she couldn't eat - and other than that there were none. I will definitely make this again when I want to wow a crowd and clean my house at the same time. Well done, Pete! Thank you for the recipe!
Robert A. November 2, 2017
This sounds awesome. I will give it a go this winter [2017]. Kudos to the Pete. One of the very few recipes that give alternative/substitute ingredients. That makes this a winner. Thank you,.
K G. October 22, 2017
Made this last night and loved it! Great flavors! I did cook mine at 300 out of fear from other reviews, but think it would have been fine at 400 too. Tempted to try it again at the high temperature. Props to you for a fantastic recipe!
awc October 10, 2017
The gochujang I finally found in a Chinese market, it says "fermented chili paste" on it and " gochujang " in little bitty script letters in one corner. I sure wish I had followed my usual routine of scanning the comments before I started this and I wouldn't be soaking and scraping the Le Creuset now. Despite all that char (blackened chili?) I like the flavor profile and will likely try it again when I have $45 to venture on short ribs.
ymar February 21, 2017
Ok. This was absolute WOW. The complexity of flavor was incredible and definitely new and interesting. I've been using gochujang in some unexpected ways, and I've done various mole type sauces, but this combination with these spices, the beer, and the squash was just incredible. Everyone kept 'tasting' it over and over until about half of the chili had disappeared! I'd love some other ideas from Pete.
Anne I. February 9, 2017
This is a recipe for when I don't feel like cooking? You must be kidding! This is the sort of thing I might do when I am feeling flush (because I'd have to go out and buy a bunch of the ingredients), and have lots of time. What I cook when I don't feel like cooking (not counting reheating and possibly recombining leftovers) is more on the order of scrambled eggs with some fancy sauce that's in that's in the fridge drizzled over them and just maybe some grated cheese.
Barbara B. February 9, 2017
And who orders Chinese Food or pizza.<br />I'd like a show of hands although I won't see them.<br />I adore food 52 but this is pretty funny.
Barbara B. February 9, 2017
OK. Who makes short ribs when they don't feel like cooking?
Steven W. February 9, 2017
The idea I to get ti going and let it cook while you live your life...these don't take that long.prep wise...
Steven W. February 7, 2017
PLEASE...PLEASE do NOT give your dog the cooked bones from the short ribs...raw bones are ok for most dogs and just because "you've never seen a problem" with giving cooked bones to your dog doesn't mean they canno thave very serious issues. Cooked bones can and will splinter, or a larg piece can become wedged in the dogs mouth (smaller dogs are prone to this) and or the splinters can tear the dogs throat or stomach. Large dogs may be able to swallow a short rib bone whole and then you are going to be having a surgery bill to remove the blockage. This can be life threatening. Please don't try it. Just toss then safely away.
janet G. January 22, 2016
Very similar to mole with far more ingredients and time consuming for very similar taste. Flavored very muddled and messy. Definitely Do not put in oven, use stove top. More pumpkin as it lightened it. Would not make again
Ainslie B. December 22, 2015
I used a slow cooker and followed the directions as written. Perfect!
Cookin' I. December 22, 2015
I used a pressure cooker for 1 hour on high and it came out great!
Ainslie B. December 12, 2015
How about using a slow cooker?
Alina November 16, 2015
I have never chili before, but reading the comments I am glad I didn't jump into wanting to make this right away, when I cook I never get it right the first time ( well it is rare that it happens lol I tend to overthink when I am in the kitchen). I will be taking into consideration all these comments and watch out for errors when I try to make this, I know I will not get it on the first time but I will try too! I am a sucker for ribs and chili. Cant wait to try this for my family gathering I have coming up.
Eleanor H. November 16, 2015
Cooked this over the weekend--agree that the cooking temp was too high, and I'm glad I checked mid-way through and was able to add liquid and save the Le Creuset. My family wanted a better balance between the meat and the pumpkin and beans, which seemed lost and overwhelmed by the richness of the dish. Next time I plan to at least double the amount of pumpkin and triple the beans. Now that I have the ingredients on hand, I'm looking forward to trying this again this winter.
ColoradoCook November 10, 2015
This was fantastic. For all those fretting about ovens and cooking temp, just do what I did - simmer it on the stovetop. I used a Le Creuset and let it cook away for about three hours. No mess and no fuss. I used lamb ribs which gave it a fantastic fall seasonal flavor which I would highly recommend. However shredding the meat off the ribs was a bit tedious with removing all the membranes and whatnot, so next time I might use something easier like a lamb shoulder. Lamb though, amazing. I used sambal oelek instead of the Korean chile paste and two dark Belgian beers instead of stout because that's what I had on hand. It has a complex flavor that is far more than the sum of its parts. I left the pot uncovered and stirred occasionally to prevent sticking, and found I needed to add a little water in later stages to thin out the consistency. I served it with Vera Obias' Cheddar and Black Pepper Cornbread to everyone's delight. I will make this again, no doubt. If you are concerned about the oven, take it from me and just stew it on the stove. Delicious, thank you!
Maria E. October 29, 2015
Wish I would have read the comments before embarking on the trek I had to make to gather all the ingredients his recipe called for! Though the list of ingredients sounded enticing and like the combo would be good...I was underwhelmed.
Author Comment
Pete October 22, 2015
Thanks for all the comments and I'm sorry this didn't turn out well for some of you. The comments in this thread about size/volume of the cooking vessel, time, temperature and what-not are all valid. Just use my experience as a starting point and go with your own experience and judgement. In regard to the question about what cooking vessel was used for this recipe, I used a covered stainless steel roasting pan, the kind with a multi-layer clad bottom. It's probably 19". I definitely don't want anyone to ruin expensive cookware, so my first reaction is to have you drop the temperature to one that is safe for your cooking vessel. One thing I didn't put into the recipe that I should have is to begin checking for liquid levels after a few hours of roasting and add some liquid if it appears to be drying out. I didn't have to do it, my pan must have had a decent enough seal. But there's too much going into this to end up with a burned pot.<br />One comment about the high temperature. I agree it does seem high. If I were doing a standard braise, I would use a lower temp ... as someone said, low and slow is the way to go. But since I wanted a thicker finished product, and more caramelized, deep roasted flavor, I experimented with a high temperature, and got what I was looking for. Someone asked if this could be cooked in a crock pot or a long and slow braise. Absolutely. The finished product would have more liquid and the meat wouldn't be caramelized. If cooked this way, I'd remove the meat after it's done. Then reduce the liquid to a thicker consistency. Probably brush some of the reduced liquid onto the meat and pop the meat into the oven to get a nice roasted finish. Again, this recipe calls for a cooking temp that is on the high side and doesn't leave too much room for error. So I guess the lessons are: adjust the temp to fit your cooking vessel's limits, check for doneness and liquid levels after it's been in the oven for a few hours, and use your best judgement.
QueenSashy October 20, 2015
Pete/Editors, could you share the size of Dutch oven you used, it looks like it is critical to this recipe? I can see how at 400F liquid will evaporate differently depending on the size of the Dutch oven, this could explain why Darlene, Laura, Lora and Texas Ex had issues with the dish.