Recipe: Bone-Broth Pork Green Chili

Bone-Broth Pork Green Chili

A dish with many uses:  Use as a sauce over, e.g., burritos, as a side soup, or as a one-dish meal with the addition of shredded or ground chicken or pork.   Plus, it can be made entirely from the pantry, with the exception of the optional cilantro.  See the previous post for more about bone broth and the pantry staples used for this chili.

Green Chili Pic

Step 1:  Saute Vegetables and Seasonings

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 med onions, sliced ¼” thick, then cut into 2” lengths
  • 2 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1-4 Tbsp. chopped roasted chiles (e.g., Anaheims)
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. dried leaf oregano (preferably Mexican)

In a large saute pan, warm oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add onions and saute about 5 to 10 minutes. Over medium high heat, they will brown deeply and almost char in spots.

Reduce heat to low and once pan has cooled slightly, add garlic, chiles, cumin and oregano and cook 2-3 more minutes. Remove from heat and reserve.

Step 2:  Cook Potatoes

  • 2 med. potatoes, diced to ½”
  • 1 qt. pork (or chicken) bone broth, fat skimmed and reserved

While the onions saute, combine potatoes and bone broth in a soup pot, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender but not mushy.

Step 3:  Mix and Simmer

  • 1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • ½ to 1 cup diced tomatillas (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Add to cooked potatoes, along with reserved onion mixture. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer another 5-10 minutes for flavors to meld.

Step 4:  Thicken Chili (Optional Step)

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil (or reserved pork fat, see Notes)
  • 2 Tbsp. whole wheat flour
  • ¼ to ½ cup water

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together olive oil and flour, gradually adding water to form a smooth paste.  Add to chili, whisking continuously to avoid lumping.  Cover and simmer about 5 more minutes until chili is thick and no longer tastes of raw flour.

Step 5:  Accessorize

  • Freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Chopped fresh cilantro (optional, but good!)

Taste and add more seasonings, if needed. Serve immediately with fresh lime juice and cilantro to taste, if using.

NOTES

1. Pork Bones  I started with an uncured shoulder roast.  Ham hocks could also be used, but I would avoid cured ham products as that could add a “cured” flavor to the chili that might conflict with the usual pork green chili flavor.

I slow cooked the shoulder roast and pulled off the meat for a variety of dishes, saving a little for the chili.  After pulling the meat from them, I returned the bones to the slow cooker,along with some of the pan drippings and filled with water to simmer for a bone broth.  I strained the broth through a sieve into quart jars and allowed it to chill, so the fat rose to the top where I could skim it off before adding the remaining broth to the soup.  The skimmed fat is what I mixed with flour to thicken the soup.

2.  Broth Options  You could make this with just a regular pork stock or even a canned broth (or try Pacific Foods’ new bone broth.)  The flavor will not be as big, but it will still be fine.

3.  Meat–Make It a Meal  Any meat from your pork bones can be added to the chili, if desired.  Alternatively, shredded chicken can be added.

4.  Optional Mix-ins  For color, consider adding a little frozen corn or black beans (drained and rinsed to avoid discoloring the soup.)

5.  Gluten Free  For the whole wheat flour, substitute a combination (half and half) sweet white sorghum and teff flours.

6.  Chile Warning!!  Depending on the chiles you use, they can be HOT!  So add gradually, tasting after each addition, until you know the amount that works for you.  If the chili ends up being too hot, it can be served over rice, add chicken to it, top with cheese, etc.

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What’s Up with Bone Broth?

Bone Broth Pic

Bone broth is BIG. I knew it for sure when I saw that Pacific Foods is now making it, and whole cases were specially displayed at Whole Foods. So what’s the deal?

Essentially, a bone broth is just animal bones simmered in water. But unlike broths and stocks where the simmering is done a few hours, a bone broth is simmered for a long, long time–like 24+ hours. That’s why I use a slow cooker to make it.

Why the new and sudden interest in this old-fashioned staple? Just like fermented foods, another old-fashioned food given new life, we’re loving bone broths because they are nutritional powerhouses. Seems old-timers knew a thing or two about nutrition without so much as a single study to rely on!

Here’s a great article from Jenny McGruther’s Nourished Kitchen blog that explains the nutritional benefits and links to her “recipe” for making bone broth.

In addition to great nutrition, let me add that bone broths have incredible flavor. Although canned broths work fine if you’re short on time, making your own broths, stocks and especially bone broths will take you into another taste stratosphere. If you can just get yourself to try it a couple times and get over the initial hump of making your own, you’ll find it actually requires a pretty minimal time investment and pays off in extra flavor 10 times over. Plus,

  • it’s a lot less expensive than store-bought, actually costing about $0.25 since it’s made mostly with bones you’d otherwise toss, and
  • homemade doesn’t contain the natural flavorings, colorings, sugar, tons of salt, etc., etc. that many packaged broths now include.

Like Jenny, I almost always have some bones simmering for a broth that can add easy, great flavor to all sorts of dishes.  This week, for instance, with some pork bone broth simmered up last week, I made pork green chili. I’ve had a hankering for it, since I have LOTS of roasted chiles from my CSA. They are prepped and bagged in the freezer, waiting anxiously to be put to use. Also in my pantry:

  • jars of tomatoes from my summer CSA,
  • jars of tomatillas from my garden, and
  • lots of potatoes, garlic and onions (the last of 2014’s produce harvested in the fall and distributed in my winter CSA.)

It’s so nice to have a helpfully stocked pantry.  Drawing from mine, I was able to come up with a great dish, no grocery shopping needed.  Check out the recipe in the next post.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Roasted Chicken

After a recent post on storing your slow cooker, one reader asked why we didn’t include any ideas for using a slow cooker.  So here is one from Lauren, our long time volunteer adviser and the class assistant in our New Kitchen Cooking School.  I had always slow cooked chicken by submerging it in water and cooking on low for 8 to 10 hours–essentially poaching it.  Then Lauren shared her method which essentially roasts the chicken. Guaranteed good results–and ridiculously simple:

Slow Cooker Roasted Chicken

Step 1:  Plop Bird into Slow Cooker, Breast Side Down

Picture of Slow Cooker Chicken

Keeping the breast down helps it stay moister.  The wide, shallow style slow cooker is better for roasting since it allows more air circulation around the bird, although the tall narrow style can work, too.

Step 2: Season Chicken

You can be fairly generous with the salt and especially the pepper.  If you want, be creative and toss on some herbs or spices, e.g., Herbes de Provence, Italian Herbs, a Moroccan rub . . . .

Step 3:  Cover and Cook on High ~ 3 Hours

Slow Cooker Chicken

Timing is where things can be a little tricky, because of differences in cookers and bird sizes. So start monitoring after two hours, until you learn the right timing for your slow cooker and usual bird size.

Step 4:  Uncover and Cook on High ~ 1 More Hour

Browned Slow Cooker Chicken

Even covered, the bird browns and crisps fairly well. Now, in an unusual twist, leave the cover off another hour to brown even a little more. Be sure to leave the temperature on high.

Step 5:  Baste Every 15 Minutes (optional, but really adds flavor and moistness)

Basting Chicken

Basting is what makes the chicken taste more like those succulent rotisserie chickens at the grocery store. I just baste as I pass by the chicken while doing things around the house, or while preparing the rest of the meal. IMPORTANT: Before serving, test the chicken for doneness (see Note below.)

Step 6:  Use the pan juices to make a delicious sauce, e.g., with just a little grainy mustard and Herbes de Provence, maybe a little wine.  Try making it in the slow cooker, but if it’s too slow, scrape everything into a small skillet or saucepan.

Fair Question:  Why not use the oven?   I prefer the slow cooker because of the “tolerance” and “visibility” factors.  While an oven doesn’t exactly speed cook foods, the window between not quite done and overdone may be only 10 to 15  minutes.  Outside that narrow window, the chicken gets tough and dry, something I’ve experienced plenty of times because I’m not one to stand guard over food.  With a slow cooker that window is much longer, maybe 30 to 60 minutes.  And even if I go past that window, there’s a good chance the chicken will still be pretty good.  It’s hard to ruin a dish completely in a slow cooker unless you completely forget about it.  At the same time, it’s easier to monitor a chicken in a slow cooker sitting on the counter than one buried in a hot oven in a heavy pot.

Note on Doneness:  According to Joy of Cooking, chicken must be cooked to the point where the meat releases clear, not pink, juices when pricked to the bone with a fork.  This correlates with an internal temperature of 170 (F) on an instant-read thermometer.  However, for the breast meat, doneness is reached at an internal temperature of 160 (F).  I usually slice between the thigh and torso of the chicken to see that the juices run clear and the meat is no longer red.

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