Saturday, March 1, 2014

Slow Baked Pork Chili and Kirschwasser Strawberry Shortcake

Serendipity is a wonderful thing. The day before yesterday, I had pulled out a pork roast to defrost for dinner, and I had the strawberries from my CSA that I planned to make into strawberry shortcake. I did not have a plan for the roast. Then, I saw a post from a foodie friend on Facebook announcing that it was National Strawberry Day, and National Chili Day. I thought, OK, I have half of that covered. And, as the day was cold and rainy (by San Diego standards), it was a perfect day for chili.

I have fallen in love with doing my chili by slow baking it in an enameled cast iron dutch oven. I think it gets the best texture that way, and there is no danger of scorching the bottom. It also gets the flavors to meld  to perfection.

I had a two pound pork sirloin roast, It was very lean. I cut it into 3/4" cubes. I dredged it in flour seasoned with berbere (an Ethiopian spice mix) cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, and salt. I seared the pork pieces in small batches in a little vegetable oil in the bottom of my dutch oven.

After pulling out all the seared pork pieces,  I added diced onion and green and red bell peppers to the oil, and sweated them.  To that I added diced fresh tomatoes, a can of crushed tomatoes, and a little pinot noir. I brought that to a simmer, and let it cook for about 45 minutes, to reduce the liquid some.

I seasoned the chili with oregano, rosemary, dried cilantro, thyme, cumin, bay leaf, chili powder, pepper, and salt. I returned the pork to the pot, then put on the lid. I placed it into a 280 F oven, where it cooked slowly for three hours.

After three hours, the pork was tender, and just starting to fall apart. The flavors had melded beautifully.

Strawberry shortcake has always been a major comfort food for me. And, I mean real strawberry shortcake, not stale store bought sponge cake rounds. Proper shortcakes are scones or biscuits, maybe lightly sweetened.

It was a summer favorite my grandmother made. Sliced strawberries are macerated in a little sugar, to get them to release their own juices. The biscuits are soaked with lightly sweetened cream or half and half. It's a simple dessert, but one I adore.

In this case, I tried to elevate the dessert by adding a little kirschwasser to the strawberries and sugar as they macerated. I also added a little of the kirschwasser to the heavy cream, with a little sugar. I used a whisk to whip it until moderately thick, but stopped well before it reached even soft peaks.

For the biscuits, I used my basic scone recipe. The spouse had made them to take to work, and had more than she needed. She rolled them and cut them out, to the stage where they were ready to go into the oven. She then froze about half the batch. I pulled the frozen scones out, and placed them on an ungreased baking sheet. I baked them for 20 minutes in a 375 F oven, and they turned out just as nice as if they hadn't been frozen. This is actually good news for the business.

I thought the kirschwasser added a nice touch. We both enjoyed the dessert very much.

Slow Baked Pork Chili

Coating Flour:

1 cup all purpose flour
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. berbere powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder


2 lbs. pork sirloin roast, cut into 3/4" cubes
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
7 ripe tomatoes, peeled and diced
1 28 oz. can peeled crushed tomatoes
1 cup pinot noir
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. dried cilantro
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. chili powder
salt and pepper to taste

Mix together all ingredients for coating flour.

Heat oil in a large enameled cast iron dutch oven over medium to medium high heat. Toss pork pieces in coating flour, shaking off excess. Sear pork pieces in the oil until brown on all sides. Remove from dutch oven, set aside.

Add onion and bell peppers to oil, cook until softened. Add fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, and wine. bring to a simmer, let cook for about 45 minutes, until somewhat reduced. Add herbs and spices, and return pork to the pot. Cover, place in a 280 F oven. Bake for three hours, until pork is tender.

Happy Eating!

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