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Baby, it’s cold outside!  Literally. 8 degrees of cold to be exact.  The best way I can think of to enjoy/survive this sort of weather is to cuddle up with a good book or movie whilst a pot of something warm and comforting brews upon the stovetop.  Although I think it’s fair to label chili as a ‘comfort food’, sometimes those words seem to imply that a dish is laden with fat and carbohydrates that don’t pack a nutritional punch. I think comforting food and great nutrition can be the best of friends when permitted.  

I love cooking things in large batches so I don’t have to figure out dinner from scratch every night.  I also find sanity (and time to do other things) by making meals are easy to freeze, defrost, and reheat.  This is an especially delightful practice when the flavors marry as the dish sits in the chill box for a day or two and produce leftovers even tastier the days following the night of origination.  I seriously love it when we have a couple different soups in the freezer at the ready.  After a cold night of shoveling snow or just a busy weeknight it’s nice to have something ready to go.  I was so delighted to return from a recent trip out of state to find my pre-portioned frozen bags of Chili begging to be defrosted.

I was craving stew when I created this recipe, and we had some really nice pork chops in the freezer that we’d purchased on sale.  Chili is one of those dishes that can take so many different forms, and I have tasted many delightful variations.  I love that it can be made with pretty much any type of protein I have on hand, but can also be made as a delightful vegetarian entree.

It looks like there is more snow on the way this weekend, so let’s warm up the house with some good cooking, and make a pot of chili!

 

Spicy Bean Chili with Pork and Red Peppers
Makes 16 servings (approximately 1 ½ cups each) *

This recipe is spicy to my taste buds, just the way I like it.  If you are sensitive to heat I would remove the seeds from the chili peppers, use fewer chilis, or omit the the chilis altogether.  🙁

Safety first!

Ingredients:

Approx 1.5 Lbs Pork Loin or Chops, cut into 1″ cubes (1443)

1 35oz Can San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes (240)

2 Dried Pasilla Chilis

2 Dried Guajilo Chilis

2 Chilis in Adobo (50)

2 Hatch Chilis (40)

6 cups Fresh Baby Spinach (60)

2 15 oz Cans Eden Organic unsalted Kidney Beans (700)

4 Red Peppers (160)

2 Sweet onions  (120)

1/2 Bag Petit baby carrots, chopped (70)

1 1/2 TBSP Tomato Paste (30)

1 TBSP Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder (10)

1 tsp salt

2 TBSP Chili Powder

1 TBSP Ancho Chili Powder

2 TBSP Chipotle Chili Powder

2 TBSP Cumin

2 TBSP Smoked Paprika

1 TBSP Oregano

2 TBSP Cilantro

2 TBSP Garlic Powder

8 cups water

Juice of 1 lime (optional)

8” to 11” Skillet (Lodge Cast Iron recommended) **

Non-Stick cooking Spray

Large Soup Pot with Lid (12-Quart works great)

Directions:

I don’t have a lot of counter space around my stove, so I like to cook the ingredients separately in my cast iron skillet and add them to my soup pot as they are ready.

1. Fill a heat-safe glass bowl or cup with 2 Cups Boiling water and soak the Chilis for at least an hour.

2. Wilt Spinach in a Skillet on medium/high heat for 8 to 10 minutes and add to soup pot. 

3. Chop and separately sauté Carrots, Onions, and Red Peppers until tender (but slightly crispy) and add to soup pot.

4. Combine the canned San Marzano Tomatoes, Tomato Paste, and Chili/water mix in a blender or Food processor.  Add this delightful concoction to the soup pot along with the remaining water and spices (except the salt and cocoa, hold these until the end).  Cover the Chili and bring it to a simmer on medium/high heat.

5. As the Chili is heating and the spices are politely introducing themselves to one another, cut the Pork into ½” cubes.  Get the skillet nice in hot, add some non-stick spray, and sauté in a hot skillet until pieces are just browned, and then kill the heat.

6. Allow chili to simmer for about 10 minutes and then add the browned pork (along with any delicious juices it may have released!), canned beans (after thoroughly rinsing them), and wilted spinach.  Allow chili to simmer 10 more minutes.

7. Stir in Cocoa powder, and add the salt to taste.  If your taste buds want more salt, try adding a squeeze of lime juice.

9. Eat and enjoy!  😉

Brian and I like to eat this with a baked potato that has been cut and re-grilled in the Cast iron Skillet.  Before I left for our trip, I baked off a few potatoes, cut them in half, and froze them in a Ziploc bag.  Easily reheated Chili/Potato bliss!  Additionally, I usually add about 2 cups of steamed Broccoli to my bowl, and we top off the dish with 2 TBSP each of Cabot Lt Sour Cream and Cabot Lt Cheddar.

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*Chili stores well for about a week in the fridge, or a couple months in the freezer.

** If you are new to Cast Iron skillets, please note that over time they become non-stick with proper care and cleaning, but it’s always advisable to add some non-stick spray for ‘ease of movement’.