Sunday, February 20, 2011

Team Pork Fat: Victory at Kenmore Live

On Friday, I participated in Kenmore Live's Cooking Combat against Beth Aldrich Real Moms Love to Eat, going mano a mano with chili recipes. With a little help from my friends, Tomato Mountain, Three Sisters, the Downtown Farmstand, I emerged victorious. The biggest thanks go to Rob Levitt, butcher extraordinaire and owner of the newly opened The Butcher and Larder, who provided me with the beautiful, sustainably raised piece of piggy. Fatty, rich, and delectable, it was barely a fair fight.


Pork, Black Bean & Sweet Potato Chili
Serves 6-8
Loosely Adapted from The New Basics

3 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ medium onions, diced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 serrano chile, seeds removed and finely chopped (if you like your chili hotter, use two or include the seeds)
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cumin
1 bottle of beer, not dark
1 ½ cups chicken stock
½ cup sherry vinegar
½ cup mild tomato salsa
2 sweet potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
3 cups cooked black beans
Juice of ½ lime
½ cup chopped cilantro
1 avocado, sliced
Sour cream and shredded Monterey Jack to taste

Heat the oil in a heavy large pot (I use the insert to my slow cooker) over medium-high heat. Dry the pork cubes with a paper towel. Salt and pepper the cubes and brown in batches, adding more oil if necessary. Remove the browned chunks to a bowl. Pour out all but 1 tablespoon fat from the pan. Reduce the heat to medium, sauté the onions in the fat until golden. Add the garlic, Serrano chile, flour, and cumin and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Pour in beer, chicken stock, sherry vinegar, and salsa. Bring to a boil. Add sweet potatoes and return the pork and any juices that have accumulated in the bowl. Reduce to a simmer and cook over low heat in a slow cooker on high for about 3 hours or in a 300º F oven for 1 ½ hours.

At this point, if your pork was particularly fatty (as mine was), you can strain the liquid from the solids and refrigerate each separately until the fat can be removed easily.

Return the defatted liquid and solids to the pot; add black beans and lime juice. Season with kosher salt to taste. Cook for an additional 1/2 hour to 45 minutes. Serve with chopped cilantro sprinkled on top and the avocado, sour cream, and cheese on the side.

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