Home ยป 3rd Annual Chili Contest: Entry #6 – Moroccan Lamb and Butternut Squash Chili

3rd Annual Chili Contest: Entry #6 – Moroccan Lamb and Butternut Squash Chili

morrocan chili in a bowl.

I think my parents did a great job of raising my brother and I (CLEARLY!). We’re good people, kind to others, mature-ish, love our family, care for others more than ourselves, have good values and work ethic, and of course, we’re above-average stellar people all-around. Kidding, kidding.

Growing up, my friends LOVED to come to my house. I have no idea why, simply because my house had a lot of rules.

No phone calls after 10pm. No food or beverage away from the kitchen table. No shoes in the house. Make your bed every day.

My dad is a cleaning FANATIC and he’s never late. In fact, he’s always early. Really early. Early to the point it’s embarrassing…maybe even rude at times. He can’t help himself…it’s who he is.

Cilantro and garlic on a cutting board.

Of all the good my parents have instilled in me, neat freakish-ness and timeliness are not my strong suits….by a long shot. To battle the cleaning issue, we now have a cleaning lady. She comes Friday…thank GOODNESS. Best money I spend all month, truly.

As for my tardiness…well, I’ve got no good excuse. I’m not always a good planner.

More often than not, I’m running late to hockey, late to work (thank goodness my work hours are very flexible), and late to pick-up Lily from daycare (yes, my crazy bulldog goes to daycare 1-2 days a week). The Lily issue has become increasingly problematic so I’ve made efforts to improve this. It’s awkward to call her daycare and say, “Paula…it’s Nicole. I’m going to be a few minutes late…I’m so sorry.” Then I proceed to explain what my excuse is. Which, for the record is usually very good (seriously). Things like work, weather, workouts, and yesterday…a detour after an accident. I arrived at 6:04pm. Fail.

But sweet Paula…she tells me, every time, “It’s okay, Nicole…drive say. Don’t speed.” Ha. Paula’s got my number.

Bowl of morrocan chili with a spoon sticking out.

When Mr. Prevention got back from China last weekend, I wanted to make a special meal to enjoy while we watched the game. This recipe fit the bill, plus game time = chili time! The ingredients are tres romantique as far as chili goes.Problem was, I didn’t plan ahead (ahem, I didn’t read the recipe until I had started)…so dinner was running late in typical Nicole fashion. This chili cooks for a long, LONG time. So do as I say and not as I do and plan ahead. This one is worth the wait!

As the chili contest continues (only 2 to go – whoa!), the winner becomes less and less unclear. Every recipe has been wonderful. I love that this recipe pushed me outside the box with the lamb (though my pocket book rebelled!) and I got to try a new spice – ras al hanout! And I loooove it!

Bowl of Moroccan chili next to fresh cilantro.


Moroccan Lamb and Butternut Squash Chili from Cara’s Craving

1 oz dried ancho chilis, seeded and torn into 2″ pieces
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 large yellow onions, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
2 1/2 lb boneless leg of lamb, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces
1 tsp kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp ras al hanout (recipe below)
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup (packed) cilantro
1 Tbsp pomegranate juice
26 oz  low-sodium diced tomatoes
1 cup dry red wine
4 cups peeled, diced butternut squash
3 (15 oz) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed


Place the chilis and raisins in a medium, heat-proof bowl and cover with 3 cups boiling water. Let soak for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the onions and peppers until softened, about 5-7 minutes. Meanwhile, place the lamb pieces in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the lamb to the dutch oven, along with chili powder and ras al hanout. Increase heat to medium-high, and continue sauteeing until meat is browned on all sides.

Drain the chilis and raisins, reserving the soaking water. Add to a blender with 1 cup soaking water, garlic, cilantro, and pomegranate juice. Process until smooth. Pour the mixture into the dutch oven, along with tomatoes and wine. Stir and bring to a simmer. Cover, turn off heat, and transfer to oven. Bake for 2 hours, then uncover and cook for another hour.

Stir in squash and chickpeas. If needed, add additional reserved soaking water to keep the meat and squash covered. Return to oven for an additional 45 minutes, until squash is tender.

Yield: 15 servings (about 1 1/4 cup each)

Nutrition Information (per serving): 314 calories; 7.9 g. fat; 65 mg. cholesterol; 337 mg. sodium; 28.9 g. carbohydrate; 6.8 g. fiber; 26.9 g. protein

Result: This was truly unique and the depth of flavors was such a treat. The broth/liquid base of the soup was incredibly thick and rich. I’ve learned that I hate the smell of raw lamb, but I do like it cooked. The slow cooking made the meat incredibly tender. The ras al hanout is new to me and I am a HUGE fan…what a combination of some of my favorite tastes and flavors. My favorite part of this recipe was the raisin and chile pepper soak. Flavor…station!

Ras al hanout (Moroccan spice blend) slightly adapted from The Encylopedia of Spices by Cara’s Cravings

1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp turmeic
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves


  I am SORE after RIPPED yesterday. Ohhh my. I still hate weight lifting…but, I’m glad I did it!

Be well,

Share With Your Friends!


  1. Liz @ The Lemon Bowl
    November 7, 2012 / 7:13 am

    Ok this looks amazing too. I can’t take all these recipes!!

  2. Cara
    November 7, 2012 / 8:22 am

    haha, I thought I tried to warn you about the time commitment! Well, I’m so glad you thought it was worth it ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Rachel (Two Healthy Plates)
    November 7, 2012 / 8:45 am

    I love Moroccan spices – this looks fantastic!

  4. Anne Marie@New Weigh of Life
    November 7, 2012 / 10:32 am

    I need a cleaning lady in my life – I hate cleaning so much!

  5. Jessie
    November 7, 2012 / 1:06 pm

    Aren’t we all above-average stellar people? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Yay for Mr. Prevention being back! ‘Tis the season for chili, it seems, and I love your version!

  6. Michal
    November 7, 2012 / 1:56 pm

    What an interesting twist on a chili recipe! I’ve never even thought about turning chili into a moroccan inspired dish

  7. Kristen @ swanky dietitian
    November 7, 2012 / 3:51 pm

    I know what you mean. Iseem to get later and later as I get older. I usually have a good excuse too but I used to be the one always on time.
    Looks delicious by the way!

  8. Kate
    November 8, 2012 / 12:42 am

    ooohhh I love the idea of lamb in chili.

  9. Emily @ www.main-eats.com
    November 8, 2012 / 9:10 am

    What a great twist on the classic chili! So beautiful!

  10. Joanne
    November 8, 2012 / 9:44 am

    I am definitely NOT big on cleaning (and there WILL be a cleaning lady in my future!) but I’m okay with being on time. ๐Ÿ™‚ I LOVE the ethnic twist on this chili. leave it to Cara to make such a rockstar recipe!

  11. Roz@weightingfort50
    November 8, 2012 / 2:49 pm

    Seems to me that your parents did more than a good job, they did a GREAT job. And hey, nothin’ wrong with a little untidyness and not being 100% punctual. Sometimes, life just gets in the way of the best plans. This recipe certainly looks like a winner to me. Have a great day Nicole.

  12. luv what you do
    November 9, 2012 / 10:07 pm

    I love chili! This looks incredible even though I don’t eat lamb!

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