I love chili, and this one is one of my best. I jokingly called it “double braised chili” because the pork shoulder is braised the night before, and then stewed in the chili the next day. I have also made the braise several nights before, served it as one meal, and saved the majority of the meat for cooking the chili.
Braising the Pork Shoulder (night before)
1 4lb bone-in pork shoulder or butt (upper part of shoulder)
3 dried ancho chiles, seeds and stem removed
1 dried chipotle pepper, seeds and stem removed
3 bay leaves
4 garlic cloves
2 tbsp salt
2 onions, chopped
1 green pepper, de-seeded and chopped (optional)
1 yellow pepper, de-seeded and chopped (optional)
2 cups dry white wine
Pre-heat oven to 350F
Remove any excess fat from the pork shoulder. In a food processor, combine the ancho and chipotle chilis, bay leaves, salt and garlic and pulse until it is as finely chopped as you can get. Rub the mix all over the pork. In a dutch oven, lay a bed of the onions and peppers, and place the pork shoulder on top. Then pour in the wine and enough water to come a quarter of the way up the side of the pork. Cover and place in the oven, and after 20 minutes lower heat to 300F. Braise for 4 hours, turning the pork over halfway through. You can turn off the oven when you go to bed, leaving the dutch oven covered, and pick up the recipe in the morning.
You might also soak the beans overnight to speed things up the next day.
Making the Chili
Braised pork shoulder
3/4 cup dried pinto beans
3/4 cup dried mayacoba beans
3/4 cup dried vallarta beans
reserved bean cooking liquid
6 slices, thickly cut slab bacon
1 1/2 yellow onions, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 28 oz cans crushed or whole tomatoes (chopped)
1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
2 jalapenos, sliced (with seeds)
2 tbsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tbsp dried mexican oregano
1 tbsp salt
3 bay leaves
Wash the beans and check for any small pebbles. In a large pot, cover with cold water, an inch over the top if they were soaked, and two inches if they were not. Bring to a boil, then lower heat, loosely cover and let simmer for about 40 minutes or until al dente. Remove beans and reserve the cooking liquid.
Remove the pork shoulder from the dutch oven, separate out the bones and excess fat, and using two forks shred the meat into bite size pieces. I used about 2/3 of the pork shoulder in the chili, saving the rest for lunch. Also reserve a ladel-full of the spicy braising liquid (albeit without the oil) and some of the vegetables.
Rinse and dry the dutch oven and place on stove top. Cut up the bacon into 1/2″ pieces and saute in the dutch oven until almost crispy, then remove from pan and turn off heat. Drain or spoon out excess bacon fat, leaving a tablespoon or so in the pan (or remove all, and add in olive oil). On medium-low heat, saute the onions and garlic until onions are translucent, then combine the rest: beans, bacon, shredded pork, spicy liquid/vegetables from the pork braise, tomatoes, tomato paste, jalapenos, and herbs. Add enough of the reserved bean cooking liquid (or stock, if that is your preference) until the chili is moist, but not yet soupy.
You can either cook this on the stove top at a very slow simmer or place in the oven at 280F. If the chili has too much liquid, let it cook uncovered for a bit (when I grabbed the above photo, it was still a bit too liquidy but still delicious). If it starts getting too dry, ladel in a little bit more of the bean liquid or stock you are using. Taste for heat, salt and spices and adjust to your fancy.
I usually cook this for several hours, giving the liquid plenty of time to concentrate and letting all the flavors mingle.
This chili was fantastic on its own, but we served with some raw chopped red onion, some freshly diced serrano pepper, and a dollop of greek yogurt.
Note on Beans
I have made this chili with various kinds of beans, and different amounts — do not feel bound to the above recipe at all. For a recent version of this chili, I used 1/2 lb of vaquero beans (which were hearty and darkened the chili to a wonderful color) with 1/2 lb of pebbles beans. A common mix in the US is pinto with red kidney beans and great northern beans.