Easy Weeknight Dinner: Chili with Peppers and Pork

ingredients on the stove

The farmers market was quite the show on Saturday. Even with our intense heat of late, everything looked amazing and robust. Stall after stall, I stashed my sack full of eggplants, the last of the stone fruit and these gorgeous peppers.

peppers at the famers market

The peppers made me realize I have yet to post this easy family meal, which then made me feel guilty because the request I hear most often is for quick, fresh family dinners. This meal has been a steady in my rotation for a few months. It’s so quick to make and I never shared it. We should just call this post, If You Take a Catholic Girl to the Farmers Market.

eggplants-at-the-farmers-market

Okay, back to this simple pork and pepper chili, it has many things going for it. It gets made in one pot, it’s nutritious, satisfying, high in protein and veggies, and it passes the orthodontist test. These days, I spend more time at the orthodontist than the hair salon – what has my world come to?

When the whimpers of “I can’t chew anything because my braces just got tightened” hit hard, I’ll just throw all the veggies in the food processor for a quick and mighty chop. That method is a double-win: fast prep and no excuses.

preparing ingredients for pork chili

Here’s the recipe and below are some tips from the trenches:

Chili with Poblanos and Pork

Serves 4-6

 

¾ teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon coriander

¼ teaspoon caraway

½  teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika

Salt and pepper

Pinch of red chile flakes

1 pound ground pork

1 yellow onion, diced

1 yellow pepper, diced

1 orange pepper, diced

1 large (or two small) poblano pepper, diced

Splash of Sauvignon Blanc

4 cloves garlic, minced

28 ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, whole and peeled

1 quart chicken stock, low sodium, organic

1 can organic cannellini beans, with liquid

1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar

 

In a large Dutch oven toast cumin, coriander and caraway on medium heat. Once fragrant, remove to a mortar and pestle and give it a grind.  Add the paprika to the mix, stir together and reserve for later use.  I won’t tell anyone if you skip this step, but toasting the spices is a great flavor boost and doesn’t take much time or effort. Trust me.

 

Sear the meat in the same dry pan where you toasted your spices. I treat it like a steak, getting a really nice golden color on one side and then flip it and repeat. If it breaks apart no big deal, just get a nice gold brown color. It’s bout four minutes per side on medium-high heat. Be sure to season both sides with salt and pepper. Remove to plate.

 

Add 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil to the same Dutch oven. Add your peppers and onion: yellow, orange, poblano and chile de arbol or chile flakes and onion. Season with salt and pepper and sauté on medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Veggies should begin to brown, but do be careful not to burn. You can add some water to the pan or adjust the heat if needed.

 

Once you’ve caramelized the veggies, add the splash of white wine – usually I pour in whatever is left in my glass and then holler at my husband to pour me another glass because I need it to make “dinner.” Stir until the wine cooks off. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two until fragrant.  Next, goes the tomatoes and their liquid (cut them or break them up before you add them), the beans with their liquids, back in goes the meat and yes, more salt. If needed, break up the meat with a wooden spoon or spatula. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer about 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add the balsamic just before serving.

 

Serve with any of the following: corn bread, sour cream, jack cheese, lime wedges, shredded cabbage, onions, cilantro, and a light body red like a Cru Beaujolais.     

stove-top

A few  tips:

1. Strangely enough, a fish spatula works wonders in this recipe.  It helps scoop the pork and flip it while cooking. It’s great at scraping the brown bits up off the bottom of the pan.  I also use it to cut up the whole tomatoes in the can.

2. Salt and pepper. Yes, what kind of savory recipe would it be without some good ol’ s and p? But the key here, as in so many recipes, is to season as you go. I use kosher salt in all my recipes unless I say otherwise. A good pinch will do the trick as you go through each step and new ingredient, by the end of the recipe everything will be perfectly seasoned – taste before serving and add a final pinch if needed.

3. All canned tomatoes are not all created equal. San Marzano’s have a more robust and intense flavor than ordinary plum tomatoes. My old stand-by San Marzano’s in a can (the white can with green trim on the label) are not even San Marzano or imported from Italy anymore – but they are just as expensive and look suspiciously similar to the old version. So I always make sure it says San Marzano (not just SM) on the label. Cento’s are a good bet or if you want to buy a delicious alternative, the Bianco di Napoili’s whole tomatoes grown in California – a wonderful option that will give you that good flavor.

pork and pepper chile

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