I can officially say that I have created an “award-winning” chili recipe. Sure the award was a $25 gift card, and the competition was my office’s yearly chili cookoff, but don’t let the small venue fool you. I think this chili could handle any crowd, and their various tastebuds. It’s a little smoky, a little sweet, with a kiss of heat. Let’s get to it.
I’ve discovered the key to a good chili is time. You can eat it as soon as you finish cooking it, but if you let it sit for a day, it’s all the better. Here’s what you need:
• 2 pork sirloin roasts (total weight between both, about 3.5 lb)
• McCormick Chili Seasoning Packet (Original)
• canola oil
• 1 Tbsp bacon grease
• 1 Tbsp canola oil
• 2 large, sweet onions
• 2 bay leaves
• 1 sprig fresh oregano
• 3 medium cloves garlic
• 2 green bell peppers
• 4oz can Hunt’s tomato paste
• 1 chipotle chili pepper in adobo sauce
• 2 28oz cans Hunt’s diced tomatoes
• 2 14.5oz cans Hunt’s fire roasted diced tomatoes
• 2 7oz cans green chilis (La Victoria brand, mild, fire roasted)
• 1 qt unsalted chicken stock
• 2 smoked ham shanks
• 2 cans red kidney beans
• 2 cans pinto beans
• 3/4 cup brown sugar
• 1.5 Tbsp ground cumin
• 2 tsp ground paprika
• 1.5 Tbsp chili powder
• 1 Tbsp chipotle chili powder
• 2 tsp onion salt (not onion powder – onion salt)
• 2 tsp garlic powder
• 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
2 days in advance:
• Coat the pork sirloin roasts in cooking oil. Pour the McCormick Chili Seasoning packet on and rub evenly all over the outside. Put in a drip-free bowl and cover, in the fridge, for about 24 hours.
1 day in advance:
• Preheat a grill
• Remove the pork sirloin roasts from the fridge and coat with another thin layer of canola oil.
• Grill the pork roasts until good charring has developed on all sides. The inside of the pork doesn’t need to be cooked through, you just want the charred outside.
• Once grilled, set on a plate or bowl and set aside at room temperature while you put everything else together.
• Dice the onions and put them in a large bowl. Do the same for the green peppers.
• Finely chop the garlic and put it in a small container, and do the same to the chipotle chili pepper.
• Open the cans and set them next to the stove.
• Preheat a large pot (something larger than 5 qt that also has a lid) on the stove top on medium high heat.
• Add the bacon grease, along with 1 Tbsp of canola oil into the heated pot. Add the diced sweet onion, bay leaves and oregano sprig and saute until the onions begin to turn translucent.
• Add the garlic cloves and bell peppers, and saute for another 3-4 minutes.
• Add the tomato paste and mix everything together until the vegetables are evenly covered in tomato paste. Cook for about a minute, on medium heat, stirring consistently to prevent the paste from burning.
• Add the chopped chipotle pepper and stir to mix evenly.
• Add the diced tomatoes, fire roasted diced tomatoes and green chilis. Stir to combine.
• Add the chicken stock, mix together well.
• Add everything else (ham shanks, kidney and pinto beans, brown sugar, ground cumin, ground paprika, chili powder, chipotle chili powder, onion salt, garlic powder, and black pepper) and stir to combine.
• Cut the grilled pork roasts into cubes and add to the pot (along with any juices that dripped into the bowl/onto the place the pork was resting on). Stir to combine.
• Bring to heavy simmer, stir one last time, cover and reduce the heat so the pot sits at a gentle simmer. Cook for 3 hours.
• Taste the soup (careful, it’s hot) and add more salt if necessary (it shouldn’t be).
• Remove the pot from the heat and set it somewhere to cool down. Don’t put the hot pot right into your fridge, otherwise the heat will spoil your food in the fridge over night. If it’s cold outside (less than 40 degrees), find a place where animals can’t get to the pot and set it there with the lid on over night, then move to the fridge in the morning. If it’s not cold enough outside, fill a ziplock bag with ice cubes, get as much air out of it as possible and seal it. Then set the bag in the chili and stir it around. Swap out the ice as it melts until the chili is close to room temperature, then put the pot in the fridge.
1-2 hours before eating
• Remove the lid and let any liquid condensed on it drain back into the pot. Carefully take out the ham shanks and set on a cutting board. Remove the bay leaves and oregano sprig (the leaves probably came off, which is fine. Just take out the oregano stick) and throw away.
• Put the pot on medium heat and bring back to a simmer, stirring frequently. If it’s taking a long time, put the lid back on.
• While that’s coming to a simmer, pull as many pieces of meat as you can from the ham shanks. Discard all fat, bone and connective tissue. Pull the meat by hand into small pieces, and add back into the pot.
• Gently simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so to prevent burning on the bottom. Turn the heat off and leave covered until you’re ready to serve.
By seasoning and grilling the pork separately, I’ve found you get a much deeper range of flavor. After 3 hours of simmering, the pork is incredibly tender and an overnight rest lets all the spices release as much flavor as possible. If you’re on a bit of a time crunch and want to make this tonight, you can. Let the pork sit in the seasoning for 30 minutes before you grill it, and skip the overnight cooling business. You’ll still end up with a delicious chili, and maybe some awesome leftovers to enjoy tomorrow while you hand out candy to your trick-or-treaters. Happy Halloween, e’rbody, and enjoy the cool weather.
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