“Drop two dress sizes overnight!”
“Make dinner while you’re at the beach!.”
False advertising, especially when it has to do with food and health makes me a little nutty. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. But, in this case, that third statement, about dinner, is for real.
It’s thanks to the slow cooker, a kitchen tool I used to relegate exclusively to cold weather cooking. All that warm, meaty, stewy business seemed more suitable to winter flavors than summer. But it actually makes enormous sense in the heat of the season when your time is better spent playing outdoors than cooking in.
The trick to using the slow cooker this time of year is hitting on ingredients that say, “summer.”
Irish stew? No.
Southern chili with fresh corn, black eyed peas, and pork tenderloin accented with a generous spoonful of cooling sour cream? Yes, please.
Prior to making this chili, I’d never cooked a black-eyed pea in my life. I can’t even recall ever having eaten a black-eyed-pea. I’m as unsouthern as they come (though I’ve been known to do the two-step now and again, and not badly, I might add).
But you don’t have to be from the south to know a good thing. And black-eyed-peas are indeed good. They work beautifully in chili, are an excellent source of fiber and folic acid, have a decent dose of iron, plus, they’re kinda cute.
The pork tenderloin, a notably lean cut of meat, nestled into the beans, cooks up tender enough to pull into succulent chunks by the time the beans are done. For spice, I use chipotle chilis, which lend a soft heat to the mix that won’t overpower little mouths.
Now, go gather up your ingredients, put them into the pot, and grab a towel. We’re going to the beach, people!
Southern Slow Cooker Black-Eyed Pea and Pork Chili
This is excellent with fresh corn sheared off the cob, but if you are cooking it out of season, feel free to substitute frozen corn. Figure about two and a quarter cups of corn kernels. You can also add two cups of chopped collard greens to the pot at the same time you add the corn to turn up the southern charm even further. The recipe calls for chipotle chiles en adobo, which are sold in cans in the Mexican food section of most supermarkets. You can adjust the amount of chipotle you use idepending on your family’s enthusiasm for spice.
• 1 pound dried black-eyed peas
• 1 large yellow onion, chopped
• One 26-ounce box chopped tomatoes or one 28-ounce can
• 2 to 3 chipotle chiles en adobo, finely chopped *
• 1 tablespoon ground chili powder
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 2 1/2 cups water
• One small pork tenderloin (about 2/3 pound), cut in half crosswise
• 3 ears of corn, husks removed and kernels cut off the cobs
• 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
• Garnish: Light sour cream, sliced green onions
Rinse the black-eyed peas and look then over, removing any tiny stones. Put into the slow cooker and fill with water to cover by several inches. Do not turn on the slow cooker. Leave overnight to soak.
Drain the peas, rinse, and put them back into the slow cooker. Add the onion, tomatoes, chipotle chiles, chili powder, cumin, and water. Stir well. Nestle the 2 pork tenderloin chunks into the peas.
Turn the slow cooker to high and cook until the peas are just tender, about 3 hours and 20 minutes. Add the corn and continue to cook until the corn is tender and the beans are soft but not mushy, another 25 minutes. Add the salt, stir well, and turn off the heat.
Pull the pork tenderloin out of the slow cooker and let it rest on the counter until cool enough to handle. Use your fingers to shred the pork into bite-size pieces. Add back into the slow cooker and stir.
Serve in bowls with a generous dollop of light sour cream and a shower of thinly sliced green onions.