Every year for the past four years I've attended a chili cookoff hosted by @joshokun and @laceymjohnson. I've brought chili every year and although some of them were pretty good, I could never manage to bring home the coveted "chili champ" apron...until this year. (Obviously I wasn't expecting to win or I might have arrived less shiny, squinty and messy-haired.)
After having exhausted all of my ideas for traditional ground-beef-and-beans chilis, I decided to see what I could do with some of the Carolina-style pulled pork I had in my freezer.
Because I'd never made a pulled pork chili, I did a little searching online for a recipe to get me started. This Texas-style chili recipe became my framework. Because the poster mentioned that the chili wasn't hot, I started thinking of things to add that would increase the spiciness. One of the other recipes I found during my research had 1/2 cup of chili powder in it, which emboldened me to jump in and start adding spices in large quantities. Here's my final recipe:
Spicy Pulled Pork Chili
3-4 pounds of leftover Carolina-style pulled pork, chopped
2 whole onions, diced
2 15-oz. cans black beans, drained
1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes with green chilies
2 8-oz. cans tomato sauce
1 11-oz. can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (chop peppers finely, add them and the sauce)
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
4 cups chicken stock
2 oz. chili powder*
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tbsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. salt
Put the meat in a large pot and add all other ingredients. Stir and simmer for 30 minutes or more to blend flavors (I simmered mine for about an hour).
*I purchased my chili powder from the authentic Mexican spice section of my local grocery store. Rather than choose a variety that was just ground chilies, I bought "Menudo Mix Molido," which contains chili powder, paprika, onion, oregano and cayenne. I used the entire package.
I could tell from the moment the chili began to heat up that it was going to be spicy and delicious. I've always held back a bit with spices, but this batch taught me the error of that approach. The vinegar flavor of the original pulled pork recipe really added a lot in combination with the other flavors. The smoky adobo sauce with the chipotle peppers contributed a distinctive note as well.
The competition was very stiff this year with a large variety of meats represented, including another pulled pork entry, ground venison, ground bison, and beef roast. After tasting all of the other chilis, the one thing I might change in my recipe would be to add some corn for a touch of sweetness and texture.
Now who's coming over this afternoon to help us eat some of these leftovers?
Photo credit: Josh Okun