Garden Diary - April 2020

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Making Chili
Friday, 10 April 2020

I went "shopping" for dinner in the downstairs freezer and discovered that neither the chili or the pulled pork I thought were there, were not. Clearly we'll have something else tonight. But I did take a boneless pork shoulder, a somewhat more than two-pound piece of venison, and a chunk of fresh pork belly upstairs for a slow defrost in the refrigerator. The pork shoulder, once defrosted, would go into the slow cooker with some canned crushed tomatoes, a little brown sugar, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, liquid smoke. Six hours later - voilá - ready to be shredded into pulled pork. Note to self: when an excursion is made to the IGA be sure to have Worcestershire sauce on the list. It wasn't one of my prepps and there is only a scant spoonful now left in the bottom of the bottle.

Making chili is more of a project. Venison, I have learned, makes excellent chili. The meat is very lean, so I add some fatty pork. Fresh belly, what would be bacon if cured, is very good. If not, pork shoulder is also suitable. I also prefer a coarser texture than chop meat. Cutting the meat by hand is possible. I'm fortunate that I have a Kitchener meat grinder which does an excellent job of grinding meat not only for chili but also for sausage or pate.

Meat grinds best when just on the edge of being frozen. Cut strips that fit
the feed tube. Grind a couple of pieces of venison, a piece of pork, back to
more venison, some pork, until done. Lastly, add a piece of bread to shove
the last of the meat out, stopping when bread pulp just begins to appear.

I'm making enough chili for multiple meals. The larger of my two Le Creuset
Dutch ovens will do nicely. Brown the meat in batches. Three was just right.

Return all the browned meat to the pot. Add the seasonings: chili pepper, red pepper,
paprika, dried onion and garlic flakes, cumin and oregano. Stir to mix with the meat.

Add two 28-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes. Stir to incorporate everything together.
Over medium high heat bring just to the edge of a boil. Cover pot, and put in slow oven
for about two hours. You'll be able to smell when it's done.

Transfer chili to metal bowl set in sink filled with cold water and some ice cubes to quickly cool it down. Then refrigerate. Reheat some and enjoy for dinner. Sides might be black beans and corn, perhaps cornmeal muffins, corn tortillas heated in a dry cast iron frying pan. The next day, pack up the rest of the chili in suitable-for-one-meal containers, label, and put in freezer. Then, when I go looking for an easy meal I'll have options.

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