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Spicy Pork Chili with Cumin Polenta

from Sunday Soup
by Betty Rosbottom from Chronicle Books

Spicy Pork Chili with Cumin Polenta

6 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided, plus more if needed
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 cup diced (1/2-inch dice) carrots
2 tablespoons minced serrano peppers
3 pounds boneless pork loin, trimmed of all excess fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more if needed
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced garlic
One 28-ounce can Italian-style plum tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice (from about 2 limes)
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
6 thin lime wedges for garnish (optional)

4 cups chicken stock, plus a little extra if needed
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup whole milk

This and many other wonderful recipes may be found in
Sunday Soup
from Chronicle Books


Pork, not the usual beef or chicken, stars in this robust chili. Cubed pieces of loin are slowly simmered until fork-tender in a beautifully flavored stock piquant with the taste of spicy serrano peppers and brightened with a hit of lime juice. This rich chili is then ladled over mounds of creamy cumin-spiced polenta.

1. To make the chili: Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large, heavy, deep-sided pot set over medium-high heat. When hot, add onion and carrots and sauté, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add serrano peppers and cook 1 minute more. Remove pan from heat and spoon ingredients onto a plate; set aside. Reserve pot.

2. Put pork in large resealable plastic bag; add flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and several grinds of pepper. Seal bag and shake well to coat pork with flour.

3. Return pot to medium-high heat and add 2 to 3 more tablespoons oil, or enough to coat bottom of pan lightly. When hot, add enough floured pork cubes to fit comfortably in a single layer in pan (do not crowd). Brown pork, turning, for 3 to 4 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer pork to paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining pork, adding more oil as needed.

4. Return all browned pork to pan and add garlic. Cook and toss 1 minute more. Return reserved onion, carrots, and peppers to pan. Add tomatoes, lime juice, and broth. Bring mixture to simmer, then reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 40 minutes, then cover and cook until meat is quite tender, for 50 to 60 minutes more. Taste chili and season with salt and pepper, as needed. (Chili can be prepared 2 days ahead; cool, cover, and refrigerate. Reheat over medium heat.)

5. To make the polenta: Combine 4 cups stock and the cumin in a large, heavy saucepan set over medium-high heat. When stock begins to boil, reduce heat and gradually (in a thin stream) whisk in cornmeal. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture starts to thicken, for 6 to 8 minutes or less.

6. Stir in butter and milk. Taste and add salt, as needed. (Polenta can be made 2 days ahead; cool, cover, and refrigerate. Reheat over low heat, stirring constantly and adding additional stock, as needed, until polenta is desired texture.)

7. To serve, spoon a generous 1/2 cup polenta into 6 shallow soup bowls. Ladle pork chili over polenta and sprinkle each portion with some cilantro. Garnish with a lime wedge, if desired.

At the market note:
Serrano peppers are small (1 1/2 inch long) hot peppers with slightly pointed ends. Like many peppers, they start out green and turn red as they mature. Use red ones in this recipe if you can find them.

Cooking tip:
I like to use canned low-sodium chicken broth in this recipe to control the salt content: as the chili simmers uncovered for an hour, the salt in the stock will become more concentrated as the liquid reduces.

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