Saturday, February 28, 2015

Two-Pork Chili with Stout

Instead of enjoying a brew along with your chili, here's a recipe that puts the beer in the chili as well, as an important flavor component... and yes, of course, you can still enjoy a glass or two as well. I already have scores of chili recipes, my blog recipe index currently notes five of the favorites, so why mess with one more version? Why not? Because... 

  • today, February 28, is National Chili Day,
  • Two-Pork Chili with Stout tastes so good,
  • the chili/chile blend can be adapted to adjust the heat level, 
  • it comes together so quickly, 
  • and did I mention tastes so good?! 

Disclosure: there are beans in this red-sauced pork chili recipe. Beans? I'm not about to enter the  battle discussion regarding beans vs no beans in an authentic chili (link and link), or even worry about whether pork chili requires red sauce or green sauce. I'll leave those culinary debates to others with strong opinions while I smile and enjoy spoonful after spoonful of saucy, meat-rich, spicy heat with beans. Mmmmm, I do love a good bowl of chili (with beer).

Two-Pork Chili with Stout

2 lbs pork loin, cubed
1 lb pork sausage
1 very large yellow onion, 
1 large red sweet pepper
2 poblano peppers (OR 1 can mild chiles)

1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon Penzey's chile 9000 (chile blend)
1/2 teaspoon ground Chipotle chili powder
1/2 teaspoon Gephardts chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

2 cans diced low-salt tomatoes
1 can stout or winter ale
Chicken broth or beef broth (I used 50/50 blend)

3 large cans red pinto beans, rinsed & drained
Optional accompaniments: chopped green onions, shredded cheese, fresh cilantro, sour cream, lime wedges and/or diced avocados

Cut pork loin into large chunks or thin slabs. Heat oil in heavy Dutch oven & brown meat on all sides. Do this in several batches, not crowding the pot. Remove & set aside.

Cook sausage until no longer pink. Remove meat from pan and set aside. Discard all but one tablespoon grease. Add vegetables; cook over medium heat until they begin to soften, stirring occasionally.

Add spices: stir and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Return meats to the pan along with the beer and stir to combine. Add tomatoes and their juices plus both broths (sufficient quantity to cover the meat). Bring to a slow boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until meat chunks are tender. Add additional broth as needed. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

Add beans to the pot; cook long enough to heat. Remove pan from heat and let cool. The flavors will blend and mellow with a rest - overnight chilling in the fridge is good but not required. 

Reheat gently; taste and adjust seasonings again as needed. The spicy heat tames a bit overnight so I usually add generous splashes of Chipotle Tabasco or Green Tabasco to the pot. Serve with a choice of accompaniments: chopped green onions, shredded cheese, fresh cilantro, sour cream, lime wedges and/or diced avocados.

For thicker chili I often add a handful of crushed tortilla chips, torn corn tortillas or stir in a slurry of masa (corn flour) mixed with water.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

It's the Little Things...

Dove Truffle Brownies with Orange Zest and Coconut

It has been said that it's the little things that make a big difference; well, today it was a series of little things. For example, things like... 

     1. using a square glass baking pan instead of the silicone mini-brownie pan that caused so many problems in December (link). I've given up on silicone baking pans of any shape but continue to use and appreciate silicone spatulas and sheet pan liners (Silpats).   

     2. using the same packaged mix, but adding some grated orange zest and a half cup of unsweetened coconut shreds for a welcome flavor punch. Before these additions the first batch of brownies seemed too single-note chocolatey and tooth-achingly sweet; okay, but not great. Small amounts of citrus and unsweetened coconut made a discernible difference that we loved.

     3. adjusting the suggested baking time of 20-30 minutes that had previously resulted in soggy, too-moist centers. I added seven minutes and voila!; 37 minutes was just enough to firm up the middle without creating overdry corners. 

An 8"x8" pan yielded sixteen squares of 2-inch brownies, enough dessert to last us for days. Maybe. After breakfast we snacked on brownie squares still warm from the oven, sampled "just-one-more"  brownie later in the morning, and brownie bites topped with a cream cheese frosting studded with orange shreds for an afternoon snack. Who can resist such heavenly, sinfully rich, chocolatey-orange treats? Not us. 

RL rated these Dove Truffle Brownies as better tasting than Ghirardelli and Krusteaz GlutenFree box-mix brownies, but that was after the addition of the orange zest and coconut. This quick box-mix brownie recipe can't top my favorite made-from-scratch recipe for Mexican Chocolate Sourdough Brownies with Chili (link), but they were a terrific answer to this morning's need for a quick treat. I had promised a landscaping crew that I would bake cookies for their return visit this week, today in fact. The brownies took 5 minutes to mix, 37 minutes to bake, 10-15 minutes to cool and... I must have mixed up the dates because the guys never appeared. Dang, we had to enjoy the brownies all by ourselves.

Now there are only a few brownies left so I suppose I had better bake some cookies, just in case today is the day the yard crew returns. Calendar issues in my kitchen? yeah, it's the little things!


  • This post was not a promo for Dove Chocolate products, though I do admit to a fondness for Dove Bar mini bites. The box of brownie mix was a bonus gift from a friend - thanks Laci! We enjoyed 12 of those 2-inch squares in two days, and shared the remaining 4 with the yard guys when they arrived this morning.
  • If you are looking for a seriously decadent nut-enhanced brownie, take a peek at joythebaker's latest recipe with three kinds of chocolate and three different nuts.  

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