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Chili con hockey

Warm up for the playoffs with these TV-friendly dishes

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The NHL playoffs are here and fans will become like deeply rooted indoor trees -- planted on the sofa watching the game.

If that's you, at some point you and your six best friends will have to eat. Something prepared partially or entirely in advance that's TV-room friendly would be ideal.

To me, that means something you could eat with a spoon or your hands -- no knife and fork required.

You'll also want it to be tasty and pairs well with a cold beverage (beer!).

When I add up those requirements, the dish that bubbled to mind was a rich and flavourful chili, for which I've cooked up three recipes.

One recipe is called pulled pork chili. There are a few steps required, but it's wickedly good and worth the effort.

The process begins by rubbing a pork shoulder roast with spices, searing the meat, and then braising it in a barbecue sauce mixture until it's falling-apart tender.

Once that's done, you remove the meat from the sauce, pull it into shreds, cool it to room temperature and refrigerate until needed. The sauce is also cooled and refrigerated so the fat rendered out of the meat will solidify on the surface and be easy to remove.

I would cook the pork the day before you need it, to have at the ready. Add it to the chili once you have a splendid mix of vegetables, beans and tomato products in a pot, ready to deliciously simmer together. The sauce you cooked the pork in also gets added to the chili, giving it an even richer taste.

My second recipe, yam, bean and three-pepper chili, is meat-free and simmered in a slow cooker. You can get it cooking several hours before the game, tidy up, and have a hot pot of chili ready to serve at the first intermission.

My last chili-rich recipe was inspired by that all-Canadian TV show, Corner Gas. The Brent Leroy character on that show loves chili cheese dogs and my recipe might also get you hooked on them. I used ground bison to make a full-flavoured, beanless chili that gets spooned over a hotdog stuffed in a warm bun.

Add some tangy cheese and onion, hold on tight with two hands, and devour.

 

Pulled pork chili

It's best to make this sumptuous chili over two days. The first day, make the pulled pork and put it in the refrigerator with the sauce you cooked it in. The next day you can easily remove the solidified fat on the sauce. The sauce gets added to the pot when you start simmering the chili.

Preparation time: 35 minutes, plus chilling time

Cooking time: About 3 hours, 40 minutes

Makes: 10 servings

 

For the pork

1 cup regular barbecue sauce

1 cup beer or chicken stock

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 1/2 lb. boneless pork shoulder (butt) roast

2 tsp chili powder

2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp salt

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

 

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Combine the barbecue sauce, beer or stock, brown sugar and vinegar in a medium bowl. Combine chili powder, cumin and salt on a wide plate. Set the roast on the plate and deeply rub with the spice mixture.

Heat the oil in an ovenproof pot or Dutch oven set over medium-high. Add the pork and sear on all sides. Drain away excess fat, then pour in barbecue sauce mixture and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook pork in the oven three hours, or until falling-apart tender. Remove the pork from the sauce, set in a bowl and cool until safe enough to handle. Pull the pork into shreds with two forks. Cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate until needed. Pour the sauce in the pot into a container, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate a few hours or overnight to solidify the fat on the surface. Remove fat from the surface of the sauce and keep sauce refrigerated until needed.

 

For the chili

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 medium green bell pepper, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes

1 (14 oz.) can crushed tomatoes

1 (19 oz.) can red kidney beans, drained, rinsed in cold water, and drained again

1 (19 oz.) can white kidney beans, drained, rinsed in cold water, and drained again

1 cup frozen corn kernels

2 tsp Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce, or to taste

-- salt to taste

-- toppings to taste, such as grated cheddar cheese, chopped cilantro or green onion, and sour cream

-- tortilla chips for dunking (optional)

 

Place the oil in a large pot set over medium to medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper and garlic and cook three to four minutes. Mix in the diced and crushed tomatoes, beans, corn and Tabasco sauce.

Mix in the reserved barbecue sauce mixture and pulled pork. Bring chili to a gentle simmer, adjusting the heat until this is achieved. Simmer chili, uncovered, until thick and bubbly, about 45 minutes. (Chili could be made ahead, cooled to room temperature, refrigerated and reheated when needed.) Taste the chili and season, if needed, with salt. Serve bowls of the chili with your desired toppings. If desired, served the chili with tortilla chips for dunking.

 

Nicely spiced chili strewn with succulent strands of pulled pork.

Enlarge Image

Nicely spiced chili strewn with succulent strands of pulled pork. (DARREN STONE / POSTMEDIA NEWS)

Slow cooker yam, bean and three-pepper chili

You can get this full-flavoured, vegetarian chili cooking hours before game time. When ready to serve, simply pop up on a commercial or at intermission and ladle up bowls of it. You'll need a slow cooker with 5 1/2-litre or more capacity to make it.

 

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 6 hours

Makes: 8 to 10 servings

 

2 medium yams, peeled and cut 3/4-inch cubes (see Note)

1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes

1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes

1 cup vegetable stock or beer

1 (19 oz.) can black beans, drained, rinsed in cold water and drained again

1 (19 oz.) can Romano or white kidney beans, drained, rinsed in cold water and drained again

1 medium onion, diced

1 medium green bell pepper, diced

1 medium fresh poblano pepper, diced

1 medium jalapeno pepper, halved, seeded and chopped

1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels

1-2 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbsp chili powder

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

2 tsp Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce, or to taste

-- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

-- toppings to taste, such as grated cheddar cheese, chopped cilantro or green onion, and sour cream

-- tortilla chips for dunking (optional)

Combine all ingredients, expects toppings and tortilla chips, in your slow cooker. Cover and cook on the low setting for 6 hours, or until the vegetables are tender. Taste the chili and season, if needed, with salt and pepper. Serve bowls of the chili with your desired toppings. If desired, served the chili with tortilla chips for dunking.

Note: It's important to cut the yams into 3/4-inch cubes. If you make them too large they won't cook through.

 

Vegetarian chili stocked with yams, beans and three types of fresh peppers.

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Vegetarian chili stocked with yams, beans and three types of fresh peppers. (DARREN STONE / POSTMEDIA NEWS)

Bison chili cheese dogs

This eat-with-your-hands dish sees grilled hotdogs stuffed in buns and adorned with a nicely spiced, beanless version of chili made with ground bison.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: About 45 minutes

Makes: 6 (2 hotdogs each) servings

 

1 lb. ground bison (see note)

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 (660 mL) can tomato sauce

1 cup beer or beef stock

1 Tbsp cider vinegar

1 Tbsp brown sugar

* big splashes Worcestershire and Tabasco sauce

1 Tbsp chili powder

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

* pinch ground allspice

* salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

12 hotdogs

12 hotdog buns, split and warmed

1 1/2 cups grated old cheddar cheese, or to taste

-- sliced green onion or chopped yellow or white onion, to taste

 

Place the bison in a pot and set over medium to medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the meat is cooked through. Add the onion and garlic and cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Add the tomato sauce, beer or stock, vinegar, sugar, Worcestershire, Tabasco and spices. Bring chili to a gentle simmer, adjusting the heat until this is achieved. Loosely cover (don't completely cover as steam needs to escape) and simmer chili 35 minutes, or until the chili has thickened and is rich tasting. Taste the chili, and season, if needed, with salt and pepper. Cover and reserve on low heat.

Preheat your indoor or outdoor grill to medium-high. Grill the hotdogs 5 minutes, turning occasionally, until heated through and nicely coloured. To serve, set a hotdog in a bun, top with some chili, cheese and onion, and serve.

Note: Ground bison is sold at many supermarkets and butcher shops.

Eric's options: The chili could be made several hours before needed. Once made, cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate until needed. When reheating, you may need to add a bit of water to the pot if it becomes overly thick during the process. If you can't find bison, use extra-lean ground beef.

 

Eric Akis is the author of the bestselling Everyone Can Cook series of cookbooks.

-- Postmedia News

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 18, 2012 D1

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