For many years, my husband and I gave a soup party in January, inviting more friends that we could really handle, but that didn’t seem to matter to those who showed up. The level of desperation among our guests was clear – even in snow or ice, they came for the party. One year, we actually had some guests who snowshoed over, and another couple who made runs in their SUV to pick up stranded neighbors.
For me, the best thing about the cold was that I could use our garage as an auxiliary refrigerator. The menu for the party contained three soups, and as I finished one soup after another in the days before the party, I just stored them next to the cars.
That m.o. doesn’t work in Austin, where the temperature is more likely to be 70 than it is to be 17. I know, I shouldn’t complain, but the change in climate pretty much obviates the need for a party to bring folks in from the cold.
Nevertheless, the month fairly screams “Soup!” to me, and now it turns out that someone has decided to make it official: January is Soup Month. So let us celebrate with my best recipe for chili.
I especially like this recipe because it has so many ingredients. I love the lively mix of the spices, the extra depth of flavor from the beer and coffee.
|Oops -- use only one can of the tomatoes.|
I found the original version on Epicurious, where it had more than 70 reviews, and more than 90% would make it again. Today, the review count is over 100. Over the years, I’ve tweaked it in line with some of the reviewers’ suggestions; a few changes are mine alone. It was always a winner at the soup parties; make it ahead, as it tastes as good – maybe better – the second day.
Kitchen Goddess note: My former neighbor in NJ will tell you that beans DO NOT go into a good chili. Phooey. The KG likes beans, and thinks they are a real plus in this recipe. If you, like my NJ neighbor, are a purist about beans, leave them out.
Best Pork Chili with Beans
Inspired by a recipe from Gourmet Magazine, January 2000
Yield: Serves 6-8.
½ pound sliced bacon, cut in 1-inch pieces
4 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons vegetable/canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper
2 tablespoons brown sugar
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups beef broth
1 cup brewed coffee
12 ounces flavorful beer (I used Negro Modelo)
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with purée
2 15-ounce cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
|Garnishes – more is always better.|
Cook bacon in a large heavy pot over moderate heat until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain, and pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pot. Crumble bacon and reserve for topping.
Using paper towels, pat pork dry and season with salt and pepper. Add the vegetable oil to the bacon fat in the pot and heat at medium high until hot but not smoking. Brown pork in batches (you'll need 5-6 batches) and, with a slotted spoon, transfer browned pork to a bowl. Kitchen Goddess note: Do not crowd the pork in the oil; if you do, it will simply steam and not brown. The pieces should not touch each other in the bottom of the pot.
|Be sure to get the pork nice and brown.|
Simmer the chili, uncovered, for about 2 hours, until the pork is very tender. Stir occasionally. Remove the pot from heat and let cool slightly. Using paper towels, blot up as much fat as possible from the surface of the chili. Stir in beans and bring to a simmer. Serve with crumbled bacon and other garnishes.