The museum celebrates the art and culture of south Jersey and hosts some unusual programs to draw people in. Last fall the museum hosted a chili cook-off.
I smoked a pork loin over hickory and apple wood and then diced the smoked pork into a black bean, rather than a traditional kidney bean, chili. I seasoned the chili with lime and cilantro and lots of farm fresh peppers to give the chili a Cuban flavor. Making this chili is not difficult, but it is time-consuming, both to make the chili and, in some cases, to grow the peppers.
The judges at the Chili Cook-Off seemed to think it was worth the time, awarding this chili Third Place.
Oil (I like to use La Tourangelle Grapeseed Oil when I make this at home, but it may contain trace amounts of tree nuts, sesame seeds and peanuts, so, if you’re concerned about nut allergies, substitute any good cooking oil)
4 large sweet onions, cut to a large dice
12 cloves garlic, minced
10 assorted sweet bell peppers cut to a large dice (green, red, orange and yellow as available)
4 poblano peppers cut to a small dice (poblanos are a mild, flavorful chili pepper)
2 long red hot peppers cut to a small dice (if you can’t get long reds, substitute jalapenos)
1 cayenne pepper, cut to a small dice
1 mexibel pepper, cut to a small dice (if you can’t get mexibels and you like your chili hot, substitute a habanero, otherwise omit this pepper)
1 bunch fresh cilantro, cleaned and chopped
3 pounds pork loin
Chili-lime dry rub (I get my dry rub at Williams-Sonoma)
2.75 pounds ground pork
Piment d’esplet (this is a basque red pepper powder, available online, or substitute cayenne powder)
Smoked serrrano chili powder (from Williams-Sonoma)
4 cans of black beans, drained and washed
3 cans (28 ounces each) of san marzano diced tomatoes
1 can (28 ounces) of san marzano crushed tomatoes
juice of 2 limes
Mean Green (a smoky roasted jalapeno and lime juice sauce from Hoboken Eddie)
Note About Smoking the Pork Loin
If you don’t have a smoker (and I don’t) you can achieve similar results in less time by indirect cooking with hardwood charcoal and wood smoking chips in a kettle-style charcoal barbecue (such as a Weber). For an explanation of how this is done, I suggest you take a look at How to Smoke Food on a Charcoal Grill. In this recipe, I used a mixture of hickory and apple wood chips, soaked in water for thirty minutes, and a hardwood lump charcoal (rather than briquets). I coated the pork loin with the chili-lime dry rub and, indirect cooked the loin in the closed kettle for approximately 1 hour 15 minutes (or until done).
1. Coat the pork loin with the chili-lime dry rub and cook, as explained above, in your closed barbecue.
2. While the pork loin is cooking, sauté the onions, garlic, sweet and hot peppers in a mixture of oil and unsalted butter. Clean and chop the cilantro and add approximately half the bunch to the sautéed vegetables. Add approximately 2 ounces of Mean Green. Let the pan simmer.
3. In a second pan, fry up the ground pork. Season, to taste, with the piment d’esplet, the smoked serrano chili powder and salt. (Don’t be afraid to pour the smoked Serrano powder with a heavy hand). Drain any grease that accumulates in the pan.
4. Combine the sauteed vegetables and the ground pork in a large stock pot. Wash and drain 4 cans of black beans and add them to the pot. Add smoked paprika, to taste.
5. Add 2 of the cans of diced tomatoes and 1 can of crushed tomatoes. Add another two ounces of Mean Green.
6. Let the chili simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally.
7. When the pork loin is ready, cut the smoked pork into small cubes and add it to the chili.
8. Squeeze the juice of two limes into the chili.
9. Adjust the seasoning. Add the rest of the chopped cilantro. Add Mean Green, to-taste, up to approximately 8 ounces total in the recipe.
10. If the chili needs more liquid, add the 3rd can of diced tomatoes. Stir and let simmer until ready to serve.
Yield – 2 gallons
#29. Inspired by the scent of wood smoke