To make the chili
Tip:To adapt a slow-cooker recipe to a conventional oven, follow these guidelines: add more liquid, to accommodate for greater evaporation; bring the dish to a boil over high heat in a Dutch oven, then cover the pot and put in a 350°F oven. Plan on the dish taking roughly half the time to cook in the oven as it would in the slow cooker.
In a medium bowl, mash the bread and milk together until a smooth paste forms, then gently knead in the meat; set aside. In a small bowl, combine the pumpkin, tomatoes, nectar, and lime juice; set aside.
Heat half of the oil in a 10-inch, heavy sauté pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the squash, onions, garlic, half of the chili powder, 1 tsp. salt, and 5 grinds pepper. Sauté, stirring, until the mixture is aromatic and the squash is slightly softened when poked with a fork, about 6 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker.
Add the remaining oil, meat-bread mixture, tomato paste, chipotle liquid, flour, remaining chili powder, salt, and pepper to the pan. Sauté, stirring with a wooden spoon, until aromatic and the flour is no longer visible, about 5 minutes. Add the pumpkin-nectar mix to the pan and simmer, stirring, for 2 more minutes. Add to the slow cooker. Mix in the beans and the chickpeas, cover, and cook on low until the meat is cooked through and the squash is tender, 4 to 6 hours. Serve with Apple-Cilantro Garnish on the side (see below).
To make the garnish
Mix the ingredients together in a small bowl, chill, and serve with the chili.
Photo: Andrew Hugh Purcell