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Red Chili Pork and Beans

Ever since I started on this cooking beef with coffee adventure, the craving for some red chili pork will just not go away. Red chili pork or carne adovada is another one of those dishes that I rarely make myself because I have convinced myself that this south western classic too much work but now that I am down with soaking and pureeing the dried chilis, I realize that I am an idiot. Cooking with dried chilies is really not all that much work at all and it's changing my life, to be perfectly honest. Between the dried chilies and True Detective, I am a different woman. I feel like this is a dish that Rust would have enjoyed back in Texas when he actually ate food and wasn't busy snorting cocaine and killing bikers. This is for you Rust Cohle, although I fear that you aren't going to live long enough to join me for supper.

While I was seriously craving red chili pork I was also dying for a big bowl of chili so it only made sense to add some black beans to my pork and try to morph the two dishes. Adding beans to stew always makes me feel better about serving a giant bowl of meat for dinner, like I am making it healthier and less meaty somehow. I like to think that the addition of beans cancels out some of the meat, you know? I would ask all of my friends from Texas to slow back away from this post now because beans are going to happen and there will not be an apology.

If you didn't want to soak dried beans for this, by all means you use a can of rinsed black beans but don't add them until the halfway cooking point or they will just get too mushy. You could also get it ready right up to the point where you add the meat, beans and chili puree back in and throw it all in the crockpot to cook. If you do that, please don't skip the browning of the meat and the deglazing of the pan with the onions because it won't be the same without it. Cook it for 6 to 8 hours on low or about 4 hours on high if you do choose to use your slow cooker and it won't require any extra liquid either.

It's nice to use a mix of dried chilis and I went for the milder, fruitier varieties. Did you know that both ancho and mulato chiles are dried poblano chilis? When they dry to a dark red, they become anchos and whey they dry to a dark, nearly black hue they become mulatos and nobody knows which poblanos are going to become which until they dry them out? How weird is that? Mulato chiles are bit on the mild side with a sweeter and earthier thing going.

The guajillo chilies are a bit hotter than the pasillas, which are a standard ingredient found in moles. All three would fall under the mild to moderately spicy chili umbrella so I threw in a fresh jalapeno for some added bite but nothing beats the rich smokiness of those dried chilis. It also might seem like a pain to cook the chilis on the dry, hot pan before you puree them but trust me, it makes a big difference so don't be so lazy.

Oh, and it would appear that blogger is still possessed with typography demons so I do apologize for screaming at you up here in light grey but when I am composing, I assure you that I am writing, calm of voice and intent,  in black Times.

Red Chili Pork and Beans

makes approx 5 quarts


1 cup dried black beans, soaked - great guide to soaking/cooking dried beans by the way
1 dried mulato chili
1 dried pasilla chili
2 dried guajillo chilies
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbls cumin
1 tsp mexican oregano
2 tbls honey
1 tbls white balsamic vinegar
6 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 tsp salt
*1 1/2 cups chili soaking liquid
1 kg boneless pork loin
2 or 3 tbls veg oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 cup chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup water
juice of one to two limes (taste after the first lime and adjust according to taste)
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped


Either soak the black beans overnight and drain in the morning OR do a quick soak. To quick soak, cover the dried beans in a pot, cover with cold water by a few inches (at least 2 cups should do it), bring to a boil, boil for 2 minutes, cover the pot and remove from the heat and let sit for an hour. Drain and set aside.

Heat a heavy pan (I use my cast iron skillet) over medium heat. Put the dried chilis in the dry pan and toast them for a  minute, flipping and pressing down with a spatula just until really fragrant. Be careful not to burn them so it's not going to take much longer than 2 minutes, tops.  Take them out of the pan and remove the seeds and the stems and then put them in a small pot, discarding those seeds and stems. Cover them completely with water, bring to a boil on med high heat, let boil for a minute, cover the pot, remove from the heat and let sit for at least 20 minutes.
After the 20 or 30 minutes, remove the chilies from the water and chop them, setting them aside and reserving the soaking liquid.

I use my bullet but a blender or an immersion blender does a similar job to make the chili paste. Put the chopped chilis, 1 1/2 cups of the soaking liquid, the smoked paprika, cumin, oregano, vinegar, honey, garlic and salt in the blender and blitz until its smoothly pureed. Set aside.

Heat a heavy pot (I use my 5.3 litre/5.5 quart le creuset enamelled cast iron dutch oven) over med to med high heat to brown the pork.  Add a tbls of veg oil and start browning the pork in batches. I do it in three batches, salt and peppering each batch individually after I add it to the pan. You don't want to crowd the meat in there at all or it will steam more than brown and you won't get as nice of a sear on the pork. Let the meat sit, undisturbed, for a good minute before you start moving it around. It will take about 5 minutes per addition to brown nicely. Remove the browned pork to a bowl and add the next batch, adding another tbls of oil if needed.

Once all of the pork is browned, throw the onion into the pan and add about 1/4 of water (if there is any soaking liquid leftover from the chilis use that) and stir up the fond from the bottom and cook the onion, stirring often, for about 3 minutes before you add in the chopped jalapeno to cook it one more minute.

Add the pork back into the pot with the drained black beans and the chili paste and stir that around in the pot for a minute. Now add in the chicken stock, the bay leaves and using about 1/4 cup of water, rinse out the container that you pureed the chilis in  and add that.

Bring this mixture to a boil, partially cover and adjust the heat so that you can maintain a light simmer and cook for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat should be tender but not totally falling apart and the beans should also be tender. I begin to check it after about an hour and a half every half hour and add water, 1/3 cup at a time as needed. I usually end up adding up to 1 more cup of liquid (you can use water, chicken stock or even beer would work too)

As soon as you take it off the heat, add in the lime juice and a big handful of the cilantro (reserving a handful of cilantro to scatter over the top of each bowl)

As with all dishes of this nature, it only gets better the longer it sits so if you can make this a day or two in advance, great. When I do reheat it, I often throw in a bit of beer or chicken stock as it tends to thicken up after a long rest in the fridge.

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