Monday, October 24, 2011

Mexican Fall Chili

First off, I want to thank all of my loyal fans who stuck with me through my drought!  It's amazing how time flies when you get busy (and a bit burnt out too).  Was I burnt out on cooking?  Definitely not.  I was stretching myself to post once a week and it just became too much.  So instead of scaling back, which would have been the smart thing to do, I took a hiatus.

What better day to beginning posting again then on FOOD DAY!  Today, October 24th, is FOOD DAY as created by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.  It's all about healthy, real food being readily available to every American. I encourage you to do your part and ask congress to support FOOD DAY's goals by signing a letter to congress on their home page.  If you want to check out events in your area, click here to enter your zip code. 

Now onto a new favorite of ours - Mexican Winter Chili.  I'm cheating a bit since it isn't even close to winter, but I would call this a fall chili more so than winter.   Everything about it screams (BOO!) fall, from the color all the way to the ingredients.  Another misleading fact is the name...there are actually no beans in this chili at all.  The chili-like consistency is created through the use of pureed pumpkin.  I look at this dish as jazzed up comfort food to enjoy on a brisk fall day.  The addition of a poblano chili pepper (sold in most stores under the incorrect name of a pasilla pepper) gives it a warm spiciness that isn't overbearing but complimentary.  You can find the recipe at the link above, but after tasting as I cooked, I upped the amount of all spices (except for the garlic powder and cocoa powder) and made a few adjustments below.  The picture does not do this dish justice but it really does look like this (unfortunately).  One taste, however, and you'll be hooked.
Mexican "Fall" Chili
adapted slightly from Better Homes & Gardens

1 - 1 1/4 lbs boneless pork shoulder, cut into bit size pieces, or buy pork stew meat if available
2 TBL olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large fresh poblano pepper, finely chopped
1 large red pepper, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
18 ounces chicken broth
1 15 ounce can pureed pumpkin
1/4 cup whipping cream
Fresh cilantro
(Note: The amounts for the spices is approximate since I didn't exactly measure - taste as you go remembering you can always add more but not less!)

In a Dutch oven cook and stir pork in hot oil over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until browned. Stir in onion, poblano, and sweet pepper. Cook and stir 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in cocoa powder, cumin, garlic powder, cinnamon, and cayenne. Add broth. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or until pork is tender.

Stir in pumpkin, cream, and salt and black pepper to taste. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer 5 minutes. Top with fresh cilantro. Makes 4 (1-1/4 cup) servings.