So it turns out that even though not a single one of my friends has any interest in football whatsoever, they all have very serious opinions as to what we should be eating while we watch the Super Bowl.
This, apparently, is the season for food fanaticism. Very much in keeping with those stats that always seem to pop up this time of year, assuring us that we’re about to consume 80 million avocados and enough chicken wings to fill a gazillion football stadiums to the roof. You hear that? The goddamn roof! And no, that does not include tofu-chicken wings, which — don’t even.
Anyway, high on the list of essential food items: chili.
I’m almost afraid to enter the Super Bowl chili ring, because opinions are so heartfelt. “It’s pork? PORK? Super Bowl chili needs to be beef!” “What do you mean there’s black beans in it? Oh my god!” But here we go. Pulled-pork-consistency pork shoulder. A rich wine and tomato sauce deepened with cocoa powder. Black beans. So sue me.
Super Bowl Chili
This dish can be made in advance and refrigerated. Indeed, I think it tastes even better the next day. When you take it out of the fridge, it’s easy to skim the fat from the top, then reheat in a moderate oven until the sauce is bubbling and the pork is hot.
3 – 4lb pork shoulder (take the rind off, and trim any obvious fat)
1 large red onion (one of the monster ones)
3 fat cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbs cocoa powder
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp chile flakes (or more if you prefer hot chili)
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 star anise
2 cups red wine
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 small can crushed tomatoes
Olive oil, salt, and pepper
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed.
Slice the onion and cook gently in a cast-iron pan, with a pinch of salt and a splash of olive oil. Stir occasionally until sweet and soft.
Add the garlic, cocoa, and all the spices. Let them cook while you season the pork, and place on top of the spicy onion mixture.
Pour in the tomatoes, balsamic and wine, then add the sugar (everything’s now in the pot apart from the beans). Top up with water so the liquid level just covers the pork.
Put the lid on and cook really gently for 4 to 5 hours in a 250°F-ish oven (or longer and lower). Turn the meat occasionally to keep it moist.
Take the lid off for the last half-hour to let the sauce reduce a bit, and add the beans to let them heat through.
Pull the pork into bite-sized pieces with 2 forks, then stir into the sauce.