The cafeteria ladies had it right when they paired hot bowls of chili with fluffy cinnamon rolls. That’s where agreement about chili ends. Ground beef or cubed beef? Kidney beans or chili beans? No beans at all? Jalapeno peppers, or do you up the ante with serranos or poblanos? Do you crush a handful of soda crackers into your bowl to soak up any excess liquid?
While there are literally hundreds of variations to chili and dozens of options for what to serve on the side, we’ve perfected just two:
Classic red chili paired with cinnamon rolls. Zesty chili verde served with cornbread pudding.
Pork Chili Verde
1 1/2 pounds tomatillos, husked
2 jalapenos, stemmed and seeded
1 cup roughly chopped yellow onion
½ cup chopped cilantro, divided
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 pounds pork shoulder, cut in 1-inch cubes
1 14-ounce can white chili beans, with sauce
2 teaspoons oregano
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Preheat broiler to high. Toss tomatillos, jalapenos and onion on large rimmed baking sheet. Heat under broiler until skins begin to blister, 4-5 minutes. Turn and roast other side, 3-4 minutes longer. Roughly chop the jalapenos, then add vegetables to bowl of food processor. Pulse 2-3 times just to chop the largest pieces. Add ¼ cup cilantro, garlic, salt, honey and 1 tablespoon lime juice. Pulse to small pieces, but do not puree.
Heat oil in Dutch oven and brown pork in batches, turning to brown all sides. Remove pork to bowl as you continue browning meat. Return all to the Dutch oven, adding the salsa verde, beans, oregano and soy sauce. Simmer, covered, over low heat for 2-3 hours until the park is very tender.
Stir in the remaining cilantro and lime juice immediately before serving. Garnish with a sprinkle of queso fresco, wedge of avocado or julienne of radish.