If you live north of the Mason-Dixon line you're probably going to laugh at what I'm about to say. There's been talk of impending snow here in the Carolinas for a few days now, and this type of news always makes folks in this part of the U.S. a bit giddy with excitement; running to the market to stock the pantry and fridge, making sure candles and flashlights are available, digging out the mittens, scarves and boots, and on and on. It's the topic of every conversation yet, most of the time, no frozen precipitation actually materializes. I remember a particular situation that struck me as quite humorous thirty years ago, shortly after we had moved to North Carolina from "polar bear country" in Wisconsin.
I was working at the hospital one day when an announcement came over the intercom: "ATTENTION, ATTENTION, PHASE 1 OF THE SEVERE WEATHER PLAN IS NOW IN EFFECT." I scurried to the nearest window to check out the "inclement" weather. Nadda. Nothing ............ not a drop, not a flake, an ice crystal, not a anything! It was simply in the lower 30's and the sky was gray. That was it. Period. The only thing that did happen was my co-workers went into a tizzy about how they'd get home from work. We all drove home ............. on dry, cold roads ................ and my Northern roots had me smiling all the way!
Since then, I've become quite a bonafide Southern girl and somehow, over the years, I joined the ranks of "snow puppies" too. Now I get giddy with excitement, run to the market to stock the pantry and fridge, make sure candles and flashlights are available, dig out the mittens, scarves and boots ............ and....... I make soup..... or stew or chowder! Something warm, homey and delicious that will warm our chilly bones after coming in from the winter wonderland. IF it happens ...............
This time I decided to make chili. A big pot of delicious, spicy chili filled with lots of tender shredded pork tenderloin, slow roasted with bacon, beer, fire-roasted tomatoes, green chilies, onions, celery and garlic. I used chili powder, cumin, coriander, jalapeño and dried oregano to add lots of zip. And for something fun, and a bit unique - cannellini beans and black-eyed peas were substituted for more traditional beans. Oh, and heavenly days, don't let me for get to tell you about the butternut squash added towards the end, giving a delightful touch of sweetness and beautiful color to the flavorful chili. I served this a few nights ago to my son and daughter-in-law and there were smiles all around the table.
So, I'm ready for whatever the weather brings. You'll be too with a pot of this wonderful chili, slowly simmering in your oven. The aroma that fills your house will be amazing and.... if your neighbors are outdoors building snowmen or shoveling snow and they get a whiff .............. well, let's just say you might find a line of them standing at your door!
P.S. We're traveling over the weekend, so we won't be doing any fun or fine cooking. We'll be back with a yummy new recipe on Tuesday instead of Monday. Have a wonderful weekend!
- 4 slices bacon diced into ½ inch pieces (if your bacon is "thick cut", just use 3 slices)
- 1 lb. pork tenderloin cut into about 4 pieces
- salt & pepper
- 1 large onions diced small
- 2 stalks celery diced small
- 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 medium jalapeño seeded and finely chopped
- 1 12 ounce bottle of beer
- 3 15 ounce cans fire-roasted canned tomatoes puréed
- 2 small cans green chiles
- 1 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro divided
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon chile powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon salt more to taste
- 2 15-16- ounce cans cannellini beans drained and rinsed
- 1 15-16- ounce can black-eyed peas drained and rinsed
- 1 6- ounce can tomato paste
- ½ medium butternut squash peeled, seeded and chopped in small (about ½ inch) dice
- coarsely chopped cilantro leaves for garnish, if desired
- greek yogurt for garnish, if desired
- avocado slices for garnish, if desired
Cook bacon in a large dutch oven or oven-safe stock pot until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp. Transfer bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate. If there's more than about 2 tablespoons of fat in pan, remove any excess.
Sprinkle pork pieces lightly with salt and pepper. Increase heat and add pork to bacon fat. Brown well on all sides. Remove pork with a slotted spoon to plate with bacon.
Add onion and celery to pan and sauté for 4-5 minutes or until softened and translucent. Add garlic and jalapeño and cook for another minute.
Add bacon, pork and all ingredients up to the butternut squash on the list. Do not add squash at this time. Bring mixture to a boil, then cover and place in oven. Slow roast for 2 hours.
Remove chili from oven, uncover and with a large slotted spoon, transfer pork pieces to a large plate.When pork is cool enough to handle, cut it into one inch slices and shred with your fingers or two forks. Add butternut squash to chili mixture, cover and return to the oven for another 30-40 minutes or until squash is tender.
Add butternut squash to chili mixture, cover and return to the oven for another 30-40 minutes or until squash is tender. Add shredded pork and the other ½ cup of chopped cilantro, stir to combine. Taste and add more salt, if needed. Serve in bowls with dollops of Greek yogurt, sliced avocados and cilantro. Enjoy!
If you like your chili more "saucy", add a bit more beer at the end and simmer for a few minutes on the stovetop. If you prefer it thicker, simmer the chili for 15-20 minutes, uncovered, on the stovetop just before serving.