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Smoky Pork and White Bean Chili

Smoky Pork and White Bean Chili

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Serves 6 to 8.
By Dennis W. Viau; modified from recipe in a restaurant trade journal.

I like chili and this is one of the best, if not the best, chili I ever tasted. I typically make beef chili at least once each winter. This recipe will get the same treatment.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons of high-temperature oil for frying, such as peanut oil or safflower oil
8 ounces (227g) thickly-sliced bacon, cut crosswise into ¼-inch (0.5cm) strips
1 large (12 ounces/340g) onion, cut into ½-inch (1cm) dice
2 tablespoons pure olive oil
1½ pounds (680g) pork loin roast or shoulder, cut into ¾-inch (2cm) cubes
2 tablespoons chili powder (any heat—mild to spicy hot—your preference)
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 pounds (900g) fresh Roma tomatoes or 2 cans (14½ ounces/411g each) canned fire-roasted tomatoes (see Notes at end), diced
1½ cups (355ml) water or chicken stock (homemade stock, if available)
1 pound (454g) dry cannellini beans, soaked overnight or 2 cans (15 ounces/425g each)
Salt
Optional: ½ cup (230g) sour cream for garnish
Optional: 2 scallions or green onions, thinly sliced, for garnish

Directions:

If using dry beans, soak them in salted water (1 tablespoon salt) for 6 to 8 hours, or overnight. Drain and rinse before using, discarding the soak water.

Bring water (enough to cover the beans) to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Simmer the beans 1½ to 2 hours. The water should barely move as it simmers. Agitating the beans in rapidly boiling water will break them up.

Heat your oven to 400°F (200°C) with a rack in the upper part of the oven. While the beans are cooking, cut the Roma tomatoes in half and arrange on a lined baking sheet. Bake until the tomatoes are tender and the skins begin the brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Set aside to cool. Remove and discard the skins (if desired), then chop the tomatoes, or purée in a food processor.

In a skillet over medium heat, sauté the chopped bacon 8 to 10 minutes until crisp, stirring occasionally. With a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked bacon to a plate lined with paper towels. Set aside.

Add the chopped onions to the bacon drippings and raise the heat to medium-high. Sauté 8 to 10 minutes until the onions are tender and slightly browned.

In a clean skillet, add the pork, chili powder, and paprika. Stir to coat the meat. Cook until the meat changes color but does not brown. Transfer the meat to a bowl and set aside. It does not need to be cooked thoroughly.

If using stock, use a ladle to remove most of the cooking water from the beans and set aside (retain if needed for more soup in the pot). Add the stock to the beans. Add the onions, about two thirds of the bacon (reserving the remainder for garnish), roasted tomatoes, and the pork. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently 35 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Adjust for salt before serving.

Dice the reserved bacon. Plate the chili, using sour cream, bacon, and/or green onions for garnish.