Chili con Carne de Cerdo (Pork with Chili)

Chili con Carne de Cerdo

Chili con Carne de Cerdo

A crockpot (slow cooker) is a fine thing, it makes cheating so very easy. There is something wonderful about coming home from work to be greeted by cooking smells and dinner already prepared.  I like to make this in the evening, leave it to cook overnight, turn it off in the morning and allow it to cool. By dinner time the flavours are perfectly blended. Like most stews, it is much better the next day.

There are two ways of preparing meat for any kind of stew. The first is “Alla Blanca“, where you cut the meat up and add it to the liquid while still raw. The second method involves searing the meat before adding it to the liquid. This caramelises sugars inside the meat, adding depth and complexity to the dish. Don’t get me wrong, you can throw all of the ingredients into a crockpot, come back hours later and the result will be delicious .. but to me it is lacking something subtle. Like hearing Carmina Burana accompanied by a piano 🙂

Evil Red Stuff & its Genteel Cousin

Evil Red Stuff

Evil Red Stuff

A relish is not as smooth as a sauce, nor as sweet as a chutney. It’s a bitey, vinegary addition to a hamburger, the side of a thick steak or nice meaty sausages. The best thing about making your own is that you can adjust the “heat” to suit yourself. In Casa de Chaos, we have those that like it mild, and some that like it very hot indeed. I often bottle half of a mild batch, then add extra hot chili to the remainder for those with asbestos tongues.  

TexMex Steak ‘n Beans Pottage

Tex-Mex Steak 'n Beans Pottage

Tex-Mex Steak 'n Beans Pottage

The first time I made this using leftovers from a BBQ. The rich, meaty stick-to-your ribs goodness was an instant hit. TBone is wonderful as the bone gives a silky texture to the broth, however any decent steak will do as long as you use a good stock. I also use a 375g packet of McKenzie’s four bean mix which may not be available in your area, so substitute 2 cups of mixed dried beans. Experiment with chilli varieties to make it as hot (or not) as you like. I used Jalepeño which gives it some subtlety, a little extra warmth for the cockles of your heart. If you don’t have American chilli jelly, or sweet chilli jam in your cupboard, ½ cup of sweet chiili sauce would be an acceptable substitute.

Salsa de Tomatillo con Aguacate (Serious Guacamole)

Serious Guacamole

Serious Guacamole

I love the internet .. well most of the time anyway. I went looking for a way to utilise the mid Autumn glut of Tomatillos in a creative contribution to a party supper. This is my adaptation of one of Zarela Martinez recipes, recommended to accompany grilled meats, chicken and fish. Complex, rich flavour .. warm, spicy and slightly acid .. had us all instant addicts. Certainly the large bowl intended for the party never made it out the door. Judging from the contented expression worn by my hitherto avocado-pathic Littlest Angel as she scooped it into her mouth with corn chips, there may just be mutiny in the ranks if I make Guacamole any other way.

Pork Stew with Tomatillos (Guisado de Puerco con Tomatillos)

Pork Stew with Tomatillos

Pork Stew with Tomatillos

The first time I made this I accidentally blew the family socks off. One-by-one pale, sweat jeweled faces turned toward me accusingly before running for juice, milk and slices of cucumber. All except my chilli-phile Beloved, who sat grinning like a maniac, wisps of steam flowing gently from his ears. At long last I had made a meal to his taste, rather than ours and he was one happy chappy. Apparently it tingled.

But how?? How had I made such an error when I had followed the recipe so carefully. I only used three chillis, removed all the seeds and membranes .. um .. Habañero is not the same as Jalepeño is it?? No, not by a long shot.