Posted in Beef, Ground Meat, Pork, Slow Cooker, Soups

The Best Chili

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I grew up in a house divided – Chili Lovers vs. Not Chili Lovers.

My dad is a chili lover. My mom is not.

I have always been on team Not Chili Lovers. Just not a fan of spicy food, which is kind of and mostly necessary to a good bowl of chili. Also not too fond of it’s density – like eating a giant bowl of meat and beans, with some oh-by-the-way veggies thrown in for flavor.

Lucky gal that I am, though,  The Man could be the quarterback of team Chili Lovers. He loves his chili.

And so I make it. Mostly for him. And in the name of good wifelihood. But also to torture my children so that my children have the opportunity to fully embrace the chili eating experience, in order to someday make their own fully-informed choice of team.

Except …

Big Britches walked in the door from school, “What is that delicious smell?”

Mr. Selective, “Yeah. What is that??”

“Dinner.”

“What’s for dinner?”

“Food.”

“Mom! C’mon! Why do you always say that?”

“Because if I tell you, you’ll say you’re not eating that.”

“Just tell us!”

“Okay. Chili.”

“Blech. I’m not eating that.”

“I’m not eating that either.”

‘Nuff said.

The Best Chili
 
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Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 1½ pounds ground beef (preferably grass fed)
  • 1 pound ground pork (pastured and/or organic)
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel
  • 1 large onion or 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 3½ tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika (you could also use smoked here)
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1½ teaspoons coriander
  • dash cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • 12 ounces dark beer (I use Guinness)
  • 1 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup bone broth
  • 1 chipotle chili pepper in adobo sauce (just one pepper out of the can), chopped
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I used 3 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper)
  • 2 15 ounce cans kidney, pinto, white or black beans (I use the Chili Beans from Westbrae Natural), drained
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 cups frozen corn
Instructions
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, brown beef and pork, stirring to break up any large pieces.
  2. When meat is paritally cooked, add ground fennel and stir well.
  3. Add onion and garlic and cook until translucent.
  4. Add carrots and green pepper.
  5. In small bowl, combine chili powder, paprika, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, coriander, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.
  6. Add spices to meat mixture and mix well.
  7. Cook 5 minutes.
  8. Add beer, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, bone broth, chili pepper, and apple cider vinegar.
  9. Stir well. Let pot come to a simmer and then reduce heat to low.
  10. If cooking for a long time (I'd recommend it), cover but crack the lid.
  11. Stir occasionally.
  12. About 30 minutes before you're ready to serve, add the beans, the red pepper and the frozen corn.
  13. Salt and pepper to taste.
  14. Serve with shredded cheese, corn bread or whatever else you like with your chili.
Notes
Crock pot directions: After adding the spices to the meat, transfer to a crock pot and follow the rest of the steps in the crock pot. You may want to omit the bone broth as the crock pot tends to make it a bit runnier.

This makes a fairly thick chili. If you like your chili a bit thinner, add more bone broth.

As for Mr. Selective and Big Britches? They didn’t eat it. Wouldn’t even try it. They ate leftover sausages.

The Bread Guy – who claims to love chili – ate it, but painstakingly slowly and not a very large quantity. He did say that it was the best chili I’ve ever made. High praise coming from the kid who doesn’t often praise.

From a years-long member of the Not Chili Lovers team, I do think this is probably the best chili that I’ve ever made. Not good enough, though to sway me to switch teams.

The Man? He was speechless.

What a lucky guy to have such an awesome wife.

Posted in Pork, Quick n Easy, Slow Cooker

Most Delicious Pulled Pork

most delicious pulled pork that makes its own barbecue sauce from change of platesI’ve decided that there must be a special place in the universe those of us with boys who play baseball. Especially those of us who have children who play on separate teams.  And children who play on two teams.  And husbands who coach not one but two of said teams.

Two hour (or more!) games.  Each.  Two on Saturday.  Two on Sunday.  Often 6-7 hours away just at baseball games – each day.  Oh. My. Gracious.

But they love it.  So we do it.

Usually I’m on my game with the food part of the day. Well-prepared and well-thought out. As the season progresses, however, I start to lose my inspiration. The weather gets less tolerable. The days can seem exceptionally long. It starts to feel all-consuming. I still put on the happy, proud-mom demeanor, but my desire to take the food-bull by the horns starts to wane.  Plan, prep and pack for the day.  Snacks, lunches, beverages.  Make sure that dinner is thought-out and ready to get started when we get home. Ugh! Small world problems, yes. But such is my life.

I hit that point this weekend. The children starved a bit. They ate crappy concession stand food. We ate out more than we should. But everyone was happy. Mostly just because I let them have a ring pop.

We ended the very long weekend with a hybrid dinner: coleslaw, french fries, and macaroni and cheese from our local barbecue joint along with the pulled pork that was waiting for us in the slow cooker (that I had in before we left).

Now, everyone who owns a slow cooker has their own unique pulled pork recipe.  Some even have more than one.  Mine has changed many, many, many, many, … times over the years, but the current version is the best because it makes it’s own barbecue sauce.  Less work.

You gotta love a pulled pork recipe that can help you to work less.

Most Delicious Pulled Pork
 
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Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • dash cayenne pepper
  • 4-5 pound pork butt roast
  • Oil, for searing
  • ½ c. apple cider vinegar
  • 1½ tablespoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine paprika, salt, dry mustard, garlic powder, cumin and cayenne pepper.
  2. Rub all over the outside of the pork.
  3. Dump a glug of oil into a large skillet and warm over medium-high heat.
  4. Place pork in skillet, searing on all sides, approximately 5-7 minutes per side.
  5. Move pork roast to slow cooker.
  6. Pour vinegar in the pan to warm and to loosen any of the bit of spice that stuck to the bottom of the pan.
  7. Add tomato paste and honey and stir to combine.
  8. Pour vinegar/tomato mixture over pork roast.
  9. Cook on low for 8 hours, or until roast shreds easily with a fork.
  10. Remove pork and transfer to a plate or a cutting board.
  11. Strain the liquid into a saucepan and cook until reduced by half, 10-15 minutes. The vinegar loses some of its punch when it cooks, so you may need to add some more if you like a more vinegar-y sauce.
  12. Shred or chop the pork and mix with the reduced sauce.
  13. Serve with additional barbecue sauce and coleslaw.
Notes
You can also braise this, if you forget to put in the slow cooker. Not that I have ever done that.
If you're short on time, you can even chop the roast into smaller chunks, put the chunks in a bag with the rub, shake it to coat all the pieces, sear the pieces and then cook. It cuts the cooking time in half (or even less if you cut the chunks fairly small). Bet you didn't think anyone could use the word "chunks" so many times in so few sentences and it be meaningful.

Adapted from Food Network.

Now, if you don’t own a slow cooker, you’d be wise to fork out the 25 or so beans to get one.  Especially if you’ve got kids that are interested in baseball.

It’s the best thing to happen to the uninspired baseball mom cook.

Ever.

What’s a go-to recipe when you’ve been out at your kids activities all day?