Saturday, January 28, 2012


I needed something different and delicious that will re-heat well and that we could eat many times over without getting tired of it.  Chili was a safe bet, and I would make it without beans.....we can add cooked beans later if there is some left after we ease off of the strict phase.
I started out guessed it......pork.  We put three hogs into the freezers and are eating our way through them.  After reading this article on what eating pork properly prepared (marinated with vinegar, for example) will do to your cardiovascular system vs just slapping the pork in a hot pan, I decided to re-work a lot of my recipes and methods of cooking with pork to make this wonderful homestead meat a healthier part of our diet.  This took a bit of planning.  I thawed some ground pork, then ran it through the mixer in batches with about a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar (Bragg's) per pound.  Actually, it was a glug or two per bowl of meat.
I put this all in a big bowl, covered, and put it on our cool winter porch for a day....actually three days, since life sent a kink in my plans.  The nice thing about home raised meat is that it does not go bad like factory farmed meat does.  It just does not contain the bacteria levels that commercial meat and poultry is swimming in.   My pork was perfectly good, and perfectly marinated in the vinegar.

Next, I browned the meat in two cast iron skillets (to get it done faster without crowding the pan) while I peeled and diced onions and garlic.
After transferring the browned meat to my big stock pot, I browned the onions for a bit and then added the garlic.  This was also transferred to the big pot.
Meanwhile, I had a steamer pot on a back burner with a gallon bag and a half of frozen, shredded zucchini from our summer garden.  This released a lot of water, and I pressed it with a potato masher to get more of the water out.  This way it would add some nutrients without a lot of water and zucchini flavor.
I added diced tomatoes, reserving the juice and half of the tomatoes to use in the blender to chop some frozen greens (I used collards) and some frozen green beans.  This would make my chili into a complete meal, with some variety of veggies.  It would also make up some of the bulk that would be missing without adding the beans.  My chili was looking rather green at this point and was quite watery with all the veggies, so I added some tomato paste to thicken it up and make it more tomato-y. 

Now it was time to add the spices and simmer for an hour or so.  But I hesitated.....I was really missing pizza, and the hubster really likes his Italian pasta dishes.  I switched mid-recipe and changed to Italian herbs from our  garden....lots of oregano, basil, parsley, bay leaves, along with salt and pepper.  This would be thick like chili, to be eaten by the bowlful, but with an Italian flare.
It was a big hit with the hubby.  I served it with some grated goat Caerphilly cheese.  This was so delicious and I'm so glad I used my huge new pot because it seemed to keep growing!  I will freeze some of it in single serving sizes for quick meals.  I think it would travel well in a thermos, too, for lunches at work.  A nice green salad would be perfect with this.

Ideally, I would have used garden tomatoes, but it was a bad year in the garden for tomatoes and we ran out a while ago.  Next year....hope springs eternal in the gardener's heart!

You can convert any chili recipe you have to make this if you want a guideline with exact amounts.  I didn't measure much, I just tasted as I went along, then had hubby taste it near the end and added a bit more oregano.

Italian Pork "Chili"

7-8 lbs ground pork, marinated at least a day with about a half cup of apple cider vinegar (beef will do, but it is not necessary to marinate beef)
4 large onions, diced
1/2 - 1 bulb of garlic, to taste
12 lbs or so of diced tomatoes
3 lbs or so of tomato paste
1.5 gallons shredded zucchini, steamed and wrung somewhat dry
1 lb each of greens and green beans, chopped coarsely in the food processor or blender
4-6 bay leaves
several handfuls of whole dried oregano leaves, crumbled
a couple handfuls of whole dried basil leaves, crumbled
a handful or two of whole dried parsley leaves, crumbled
sea salt to taste
black pepper to taste

Brown meat, brown onions, sweat the garlic a bit.  Add to pot with remaining ingredients.  Simmer for at least a half hour, taste, and adjust seasoning.  Simmer another half hour, taste again and adjust as needed.  Simmer a bit more after each addition of herbs, to blend the flavors.
Serve in generous portions in bowls, with or without a topping of a sharp cheese.  Mozzarella could be browned in the oven if you use oven-safe bowls.

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