It’s January. It’s cold and dark and we are all hungover from the perpetual marathon binge known as “The Holidays.” From Thanksgiving to New Year’s, we are bombarded with meat, potatoes, booze, pies and cookies, leaving us all feeling a little overindulged.
As the old year comes to close and the new one approaches, resolutions are set, and people find solace in lying to themselves and their 500 closest friends on Facebook about all of the lifestyle changes they are going to make…later. Just one more piece of Cranberry Cheesecake and one last glass of scotch to rinse down all of the bad choices made in the last 365 days, then we will start fresh. Eat more greens. Lose 15 pounds. Run four times a week. Stop eating solid food altogether. By January 2nd (Let’s be honest, none of this shit actually starts on the first. There are hangovers to be nursed.), everyone and their mom is fully immersed in the January cleanse.
Look no further than your social media newsfeed or the cubicle next to you for evidence of these ridiculously constructed pipe dreams. Oh, this year you’re only drinking kale sludge you made in your 400 dollar blender? You’re not eating anything with a face before 2 pm? You’re skipping all grains and animal products and subsisting on cold crudites for the next month? Cool, bro. I mean, I get it. We are all scared and bloated. But I don’t see how starvation is going to fix any of that. I don’t know about y’all, but it’s only the 10th day of the month, and I’m tired of The Cleansers. Seriously.
The couch is your cleanse, and I am Dave Chappelle as Rick James. Fuck. Yo’. Cleanse.
Sure, I’ve cleansed. And yes, I was in fact, at one time in my life, a vegan. It was fun for awhile and made me feel quirky and hip, and certainly justified all the plaid and glittered Tom’s loafers in my wardrobe. But for me, what starts as a healthy lifestyle change invariably devolves into an emotional battle of willpower vs. hanger (you know, the fine line between hunger and anger). Some people can actually sustain shit like this and fit into their size 4 capris by April, but I always end up miserable, attempting to artfully camouflage my cankles with American Apparel’s latest offering of “Bobby Socks,” and drowning my sorrows in cupcakes and whisky. So this year, my resolution is to eat real food. And more of it.
And I’ve been doing just that. I’ve been relying on soups and stews lately since it really is very cold outside. Just this week I made Mama’s Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup and Mexican Oregano Lime Chicken Soup, both on the stove. But to me, nothing is more warming or comforting than a giant Crock-pot of chili. I make it frequently, because it’s easy, filling, and allows for a TON of leftovers. (Perfect to freeze and thaw for lunches or a quick dinner a few weeks down the line.) While traditional chili recipes always hit the spot, they can get old, and we’ve already had every variation of bison chili I can think of at least twice this winter.
So today, I made this: Crock-Pot Four Pepper Chili Verde With Pork Shoulder. This recipe calls for ~2 pounds of pork shoulder (or butt), skips the beans, and relies only on onion and green peppers for the rest, making it ideal for smothering huevos or rellenos, or simply eating on its own with warm tortillas for dunking.
Much like any other slow-cooker recipe, the preparation for this dish is quick and easy – just sear the pork, cut the peppers and onion, toss it all in the Crock-pot with the chicken stock and spices, and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or high for 3-4. I made this early in the morning and went about my day – occasionally stirring and frequently smelling the olfactory orgasm that is this chili. Honestly, our apartment smelled so divine, I almost didn’t want to leave for yoga and a haircut (funemployment priorities).
I slow-cooked it for well over eight hours, torturing myself and my dog, Toot, with the intensely appetizing aroma. (I had to make myself an Old Fashioned with my homemade Bourbon Soaked Cherries to curb my apetite.)
When my boyfriend finally arrived home from work, he swore he could smell it from the parking lot of our apartment. It was perfect…divine…heavenly (!!!) served over a bed of white Basmati rice, garnished with melted extra sharp cheddar cheese, fresh cilantro, lime juice, and cayenne pepper hot sauce. The pork was so very tender, and the heat of the four peppers was slow to build, but strong. You could easily add beans, potatoes, or rice to this right at the very end to make it more a comprehensive stew, but I took a potato-masher to this to shred the meat chunks and am looking forward to smothering our eggs with it this weekend.
Crock-Pot Four Pepper Chili Verde With Pork Shoulder
(serves 6, adapted from Everyday Southwest)
2 to 3 pounds pork shoulder (or butt) roast
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 yellow onion, diced
4 to 6 tomatillos, halved
2 jalapeno peppers, diced
2 anaheim peppers, diced
2 poblano peppers, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
4 cups chicken stock or broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper sauce
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1. Cut the pork into 2 inch cubes. Sear the cubes in the oil over medium-high heat in a skillet.
2. Add all ingredients except the vinegar to the Crock-pot. Cook for 3 to 4 hours on high, or for 6 to 8 hours on low.
3. Add vinegar and spices to taste. Serve.
Hey, enjoy your wheatgrass-lychee-vinegar-mangosteen smoothie. Imma be over here putting this on everything in my fridge. Fuck a cleanse, and Happy 2013, y’all.