Author Notes: The use of the inexpensive cut , Pork Shoulder, helps qualify this meat stew as a 'Cheap Feast' for us. I am enamored of the flavorful effects of smoking foods. When I found a similar recipe to this in Rick Bayless's Authentic Mexican, I knew I had to do a major smoked version of it. I smoked most of the ingredients, made a smoked pork stock, added roasted buttercup squash,tweaked the seasonings, and voila. It is really a very simple traightforward dish if you have a smoker; otherwise, try an unsmoked version. When I make it, I use 8 lb of pork shoulder, which results in about 45 cups of chili.(It freezes very well!) For those making the larger quantity, I have included the larger amount of ingredients in parentheses. p.s. This is probably the only savory dish I make that requires no salt or pepper! - LE BEC FIN
Serves 4 (or 16)
Brining and Smoking the Pork and Vegetables
- 2 (8) pounds pork shoulder, bone-in
- 1/2 (3) cup sugar
- 1/3 (2) cup kosher salt
- 2 (8) cups boiling water
- 3 1/3 ( 24) cups cold water
- 24-28 (96)ounces imported Italian whole plum tomatoes (Pastene are excellent), drained (reserve juices)
- 6 (36-42)ounces white onion,peeled and halved
- 1 ounce (1 head)garlic cloves, separated, peel on
- Pour the sugar and salt into the boiling water and stir til dissolved. Add the cold water.In a heavy ziploc bag or a container that just fits the pork, submerge the pork in the brine and refrigerate for approximately 1 day.
- Remove the pork from the brine and place into a cold or preheated smoker. Using wood chips (I used hickory) and replacing them and replenishing the fuel as needed, smoke the pork for 2- 3 (5-6) hours at 250 degrees F. Let cool, cut into 1 "cubes.
- Double up 2 disposable aluminum sheet pans (11 x 17 ") or other aluminum pans; riddle them w/ holes made with a strong skewer*, and place tomatoes next to onions and garlic.Smoke next to the pork 1 ( 2-3) hours but remove garlic after 1 hour. Chop tomatoes( keep any juices) and onions. Remove skin from garlic, mince. * This is easiest to do over a cookie rack or grill grates, or over the smoker grates before it is lit.
Make Smoked Pork Stock(or use Beef Stock) and Assemble the Chili
- bones from smoked pork shoulder
- cold water to cover ,plus a few inches more
- 1(3) small carrot
- 1 (3) stalk celery
- 1(2) small onion
- pinch (1/2 teaspoon) thyme
- 1 (4) bay leaf
- a few (10) whole black peppercorns
- 1 (4) pound unpeeled, seeded buttercup squash, cut into 1-1 1/2' cubes
- a few (6) cloves or allspice berries
- 24 -28 (96) ounces imported whole Italian plum tomatoes, drained and juices reserved, chopped
- 1-2 (8)Tablespoons bacon, pork or chorizo fat
- 1/2 (2)pounds Portuguese chorizo (not Mexican), sliced in 1/4 inch rounds that are then cut in half into crescents
- 1 Tablespoon (1/3 cup)pureed chipotles in adobo (if seeds, remove before pureeing with adobo sauce)
- reserved tomato juices
- With the pork shoulder bones, make a stock with the pork through the peppercorns. Bring to boil, skim foam as it simmers 8 hours. Strain, cool, refrigerate til fat congeals on top. Remove fat and use stock. Or substitute beef stock.
- Cube (unpeeled) buttercup squash into 1" cubes. Toss w/ a little oil, roast at 450 degrees F til edges are browned and squash just pierces with a skewer.(Do not cook til soft or squash will be mushy in stew.)
- Meanwhile, over medium hot heat, sautee onion in hot pork fat or bacon fat til done but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add chorizo and sautee til fat is rendered, 5-8 minutes. Add smoked chopped onions and garlic and more fat if needed. Sautee a few minutes. Add oregano for a minute. Add tomatoes and chipotle and stir well to heat. Add stock (and reserved tomato juices if need more liquid.) Bring to boil, turn down to simmer for 30 minutes. Add squash and simmer 10 minutes. Adjust seasonings (likely more chipotle puree , tomato or oregano.)
- Top with cubed avocado and serve. Accompany with tortilla chips, tamales or cornbread. Stew flavor will improve after a day or more.
- This dish freezes very well.