My chili. A crowd pleaser, or at least that’s what the folks at the church cook-off seemed to say. There was a popular vote and a judges vote, and while big money did sway the votes (bribing was encouraged… it was an awesome fundraiser for our youth mission trip), with minimal shenanigans on my part (or on my behalf)… my chili took second place in both votes! Only minimal bragging, but I *think* I would’ve had a good chance at first in both if money wasn’t a significant deciding factor. But it was, and I’m encouraged by how many people were willing to donate big for these teens off to do some amazing work this summer!
This recipe isn’t for the faint of heart. In all it was a three day process for me, from marinating the pork, to smoking the pork, and making the chili. And I did my best to write down the recipe, but I adjust based on flavor as I go so I encourage you to adapt to your preferences. Creating recipes is kind of an art form for me, and it’s so personal since it is based on my favorite flavor profiles, with a few considerations for not overdoing those things so most people would enjoy it too! And even though I think this turned out fantastic, I’ll include my notes on what I might switch up a little in my next go at this chili… because there will definitely be a next go!
In its creation, this recipe hinged on the sweet and smoky flavor combination paired with pork. Smoked pork shoulder, thick cut smoked bacon, and sausage. Hence: Triple Pig. I created my own spice blend and my own sauce as the base flavor profile. The spice blend was added to my sauce, as another layer on the pork shoulder before it smoked, straight into the chili itself, and as a coating on some tortilla chips I served as a garnish for a very complimenting crunch.
One of my favorite little parts of the sauce came from some homemade applesauce I canned a couple years ago. The sweet of the apple, that compliments pork so nicely, seemed like a natural way to start. I definitely used a fair amount of apple cider vinegar too, that tang highlights so many things!
I marinated my pork for about 12 hours in my sauce, and then added a thick layer of my spice blend before the smoke. I didn’t pat off any sauce, so together it was kind of like a paste that coated my pork. I used country style pork shoulder ribs, honestly because I thought they’d smoke faster. They didn’t. Enter staying up until 3am to take them off the smoker. I’m still on the fence about whether I’d go this route or a big pork shoulder to smoke for the next round. There were more burnt end type pieces from this which I like, but they didn’t all cook evenly and there was more fat that didn’t render into the meat than I’m used to with just a big pork shoulder.
For the record, the only thing Aaron helped me with was getting the smoker started and opening doors for me when I carried it out to put on. He was making his own chili for the church cook-off, so it was stiff competition at our house. ;)
Oh, and I used a pan with some chopped onion and apple cider vinegar for some extra moisture and flavor while they smoked. Don’t do it. It’s honestly just not worth the mess and clean up. I’m not writing that into the recipe below. If I did anything for extra moisture I would just spritz the pork with some apple cider vinegar occasionally throughout the smoke.
Thick cut smoked peppered bacon, deglazing the bacon pot to cook the onions in, peppers and garlic and chiles in adobo, peppers and good beer, a mix of beans, and that beautiful smoke-ringed pork! Yum. I’m hungry for this now, and it’s early in the morning as I’m writing this!
Made the day before the chili cook-off and reheated and adjusted the day of… we all know chili is better the second day!
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup salt
- 1/4 cup smoked paprika
- 2 tbsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 1.5 tbsp onion powder
- 1.5 tbsp mustard powder
- 1.5 tbsp cumin
- 1 tbsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp chipped onion flakes
- 1 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 pints applesauce (used homemade honeycrisp, 1 cinnamon, 1 regular)
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup S&S Spice Blend
- 6-8 pounds pork shoulder (I used pork shoulder country ribs, can use big pork shoulder)
- 18oz hickory smoked peppered bacon, chopped
- 3/4 lb. sausage (used jimmy dean all natural, and added some of my S&S seasoning blend)
- 2 onions, chopped fairly small (I don't like big chunks in my chili!)
- 1/2-1 cup chicken stock
- 1 jalapeno, diced
- 1/2-1 anaheim, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 5-6 garlic cloves, minced
- 3-4 pureed chiles in adobo, plus 1-2 tbsp adobo sauce (adjust per spice preference)
- 2 cans, drained but not rinsed seasoned black beans
- 1 can great northern beans
- 1 can red beans
- 1 can grapefruit IPA (I might go for something less hoppy next time, personal preference)
- 3 cans crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup S&S sauce
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 can tomato paste
- 1/2-1 cup S&S seasoning blend
- 1/2-1 cup brown sugar
- 1 bunch chopped cilantro (1 cup after fine chop?)
- garnish as you prefer
- Mix seasoning blend. I think I doubled this recipe, but I had a lot left over so I *think* you could get away with making one batch. Or make two, and put the leftover in an empty seasoning bottle to use in the future!
- Mix sauce, reserve at least 1 cup for the chili.
- Marinate pork shoulder in sauce at least 12 hours. Right before smoking, take out of marinade, shake off excess and coat in S&S seasoning blend. It forms a sort of paste on the exterior of the pork. Smoke at 225 according to the weight of pork and your smoker's directions. You can spritz with some apple cider vinegar if needed. Let the pork rest, and pull or cut when it is convenient for you. (I smoked the day before I needed the pork, so I just cut it up cold right before it went into the chili)
- For the actual chili. Start with the chopped bacon and sausage (plus a little S&S seasoning) in a big pot, brown well and remove. I dumped mine in the reserved sauce to hold until it was time to add it back in. Deglaze pan with some chicken stock and add chopped onions. When onions start to soften add jalapeno, anaheim, green bell pepper, garlic, and pureed chiles in adobo+adobo sauce. Saute until fragrant and bell pepper just starts to soften. Add everything but last three ingredients to the pot. (beans, tomatoes in all forms, beer, reserved S&S sauce, pork in all forms). Simmer. I simmered until it was the consistency I was aiming for, a little on the liquid side since I knew I was reheating the next day. Probably 1-2 hours. If serving day of, can simmer longer to achieve thicker consistency. Adjust seasoning here as needed. I added 1/2-1 cup S&S seasoning blend, about a cup of brown sugar (it had ended up spicier than intended so I was hoping the sugar would mellow a bit of that), and the very last step is adding 1 finely chopped bunch of cilantro. I like it in the chili as well as the garnish, but it does not need to be cooked long.
- Serve alongside any garnishes you enjoy! I served mine at the cook-off with homemade guac (with S&S seasoning blend in it), cheese, cilantro, and hearty store bought chips I re-seasoned with S&S seasoning blend! Enjoy!
Serve with your favorite garnishes and enjoy! My kids definitely enjoyed a few bites as I photographed it, and we enjoyed the leftovers for a few days after too! I LOVE leftover chili!
And you can’t forget that it went over pretty darn well at the church cook-off too! And if you get to the end of this post and are like: “Sam, this is way too much work!” I get it… just make the seasoning blend and use it on… EVERYTHING! :)