The pork shoulder roast used to make this chili was originally scheduled for a little "low and slow" oven love before being served up to the gang as a Sunday roast. However, mid-way through prepping it for this purpose I had a change of heart, prompted by my need to get our fridge and pantry inventory below the level that would feed a small country (you think I'm kidding?). Turns out this lovely chili allowed me to use up not only the shoulder roast, but also a box of baby spinach, all the carrots, onions, shallots, celery and cilantro left in the fridge, a can of crushed tomatoes and a bag of flageolet beans from the pantry, and a cooked bag of bacon shards in the freezer.
How's that for a kitchen sink recipe!
As Grid and I had just returned from an out of town ski trip, much of our day was dedicated to unpacking and washing clothes and generally getting settled. It wasn't until late-afternoon that my thoughts turned to dinner and by that time a low-slow turn for the roast was out of the question.
Enter my new toy, the pressure cooker.
As I mentioned in a prior post, my wife bought me a pressure cooker for Christmas, and we've spent the past few weeks putting it through its paces, experimenting, and generally educating ourselves on cooking at warp speed. The roast, which normally would have taken 3-4 hours in a low oven was done in just under an hour in the pressure cooker. While the roast was enjoying its supersonic flight, I quick-cooked the dried beans by placing them in a pot, covering them with 2" of water, bringing them to a boil, then pulling them from the heat to soak for an hour. After that soak, a 40 minute gentle cooking in fresh water had them perfectly tender. Normally I would have soaked the beans overnight therby avoiding the 1 hour hot-soak, but our last minute course correction required an expedited plan.
Once the meat and beans were cooked, the rest of the chili came together pretty quickly. A few minutes of peeling, chopping and diceing later and everything started to find its way into my Le Creuset dutch oven. A quick sauté of the veggies and spices got things going, then the meat, beans, tomatoes and stock were added to round out the party. Late to the gig were the spinach, jalapeno and cilantro so as not to ruin their garden green freshness. Once everything was warmed through, a final taste for seasoning, and this impromptu dish was ready to be served up with some fresh baked corn bread and a simple green salad.
Cheers – Steve
- 4 pound pork shoulder (Boston Butt) roast
- 2 cups dried flageolet beans (or other bean of your choice)
- 28 ounce can of crushed or chopped tomatoes (I prefer San Marzanos)
- 4-6 cups chicken stock (plus any de-fatted pork jus left from roasting)
- 4 carrots, peeled and cut to medium dice
- 3 ribs of celery cut to medium dice
- 1 large sweet onion, cut to medium dice
- 2 shallots, cut to fine dice
- 6 slices of bacon, cooked and roughly chopped
- 1 box (or bag) baby spinach
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder (or more to taste)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
- 2 fresh jalapenos, finely diced
- Limes, cut into wedges for garnish
- Heat the oven to 300℉. Season the pork well with salt and pepper. Heat some oil in a large dutch oven over a medium-high flame, then brown the pork on all sides until nicely caramelized. Leave the pork in the pan, add about 2 cups of chicken stock, cover the pan and place it in the oven. Braise until the pork is fork tender, about 3 hours.
- While the pork is cooking, quick cook the beans by placing them in a pot, covering them with 2" of water, bringing them to a boil, then pulling them from the heat to soak for an hour. After that soak, a 40 minute gentle cooking in fresh water will have them perfectly tender. Start to check for doneness at 30 minutes. When the beans are tender, drain and reserve.
- Remove the pork from the pan and let cool on a cutting board. Pour out and de-fat the juice that was left in the pan and reserve. Add a touch of oil back to the pan and place it over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until starting to turn golden. Add the carrots and celery and cook, stirring frequently until starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano and chili powder and cook another minute.
- Meanwhile, tear apart the pork with your fingers, pulling the meat into shreds and tossing it into the pot. Add the tomatoes along with the de-fatted pork jus from the braise and the beans, taste for seasoning. Once everything has warmed through add the spinach and the jalapeno and cook until the spinach has just wilted. At the very last minute add the chopped cilantro and ladle the chili into warmed bowls.
- Serve with a spritz of fresh lime juice, and top with additional cilantro, shredded cheese, or a dollop of sour cream.