Saturday, January 05, 2013

The Great Chili Experiment

My favorite chili recipe EVER is one a friend shared with me after finding it on a few years ago. It has porter and coffee and cocoa in it, which gives it such a deep, smokey, rich flavor. It's pretty much become my go-to chili recipe any time I have a craving. It is really good, but has a lot of ingredients (two kinds of meat, the aforementioned beer, coffee and cocoa), so it's not the cheapest ever to make. I thought it might be nice to try a simpler one, so I pulled out my barely opened copy of Casserole, Slow Cooker & Soups cookbook.

The book has 370 pages worth of recipes that I suspect may be kind of hit and miss, because it's all recipes submitted by home cooks. It all tends to be pretty simple, which is probably good, since I often get carried away with exotic spices and forget that simple has its place. So, I was excited (based on the picture in the book and the fact that I already had a pork loin in the freezer) to try what they were calling Zippy Pork Chili. I am probably spoiled by My Favorite Chili Recipe, but it became pretty clear to me after I started cooking that this new recipe was not so much zippy as boring. So, I decided to scrap their recipe and make up my own.

Here is what I came up with:

1.5 lb pork loin cut into 1" cubes (because there was one in the freezer)
a bunch of onion powder (because we had no onions, but if we had, i'd probably use one yellow one)
2 cloves garlic (I'm guessing here...what I really used was a generous tablespoon of chopped garlic from a jar we keep in the refigerator)
2 cans (15.5 oz) organic kidney beans
1 14.5 oz cans organic fire roasted tomatoes
1 can Rotel tomatoes with chile peppers (next time, I will probably use 2 cans of fire roasted and add all or part of a jalapeno pepper, but we just happened to have the Rotel in the pantry, which sounds much fancier than the shelf in the garage where we actually keep our canned goods)
1 14.5 oz can sweet corn (fresh or frozen would be really good -  this really ended up in the mix because the pork loin, which was coated with pepper + the spicy rotel stuff and I wanted to water it down a little. The heat was too much for the whimps in my house!)
1 cup water
1 tsp beef bouillon
1/4 c brown sugar
2T chili powder
1/2 T cumin
1t cocoa
1t oregano
1t coriander
1t kosher salt

In a large pot heat enough olive oil to brown the pork.Add garlic, onion and brown until meat is no longer pink. Add the rest of the ingredients, stir, bring to a boil, simmer for a couple hours until the pork is tender.

Serve with sour cream (Trader Joe's makes a great fat free one with skim milk!), tortilla chips (we tried TJ's sweet potato tortilla good!), salsa, cheese or whatever you like to garnish your chili with.

I won't say that it's better than my favorite, but it came out pretty well for being done on the fly.

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