Main Dishes, Recipes, slow cooker

Spicy Smoky Slow Cooker Pork Chili

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My husband and I made this fabulous chili a couple weeks ago, and it was so good!  I’ve made good chilis before, but this one is by far the best.  A total keeper.  And completely party/guest-worthy.

Jeff and I were looking for a good  recipe we could slow cook all day while off on a long hike, but we wanted one that also did justice to our big college football games of the day: his Notre Dame Irish played Michigan, my USC Trojans played Ohio State.  If you don’t already know this about us, Jeff and I love football, and we love food.  While grilled brats are our mainstay football game day lunch, we like to experiment with cool “football worthy” foods for big game day dinners (we did a Southwest/Polish themed menu at a party we hosted for last year’s Steelers/Cardinals Superbowl).

I discovered this tasty-sounding CookingLight recipe a while back, while perusing healthy recipes, but just never got around to making it.  When Jeff and I decided to do a long day hike in Silverado Canyon the same day as our big football games, I thought our busy schedule and big football watching evening schedule warranted a good chili.

But, I wanted something out of the norm.  I usually make my chili with ground beef; Jeff tends to like a more substantive meat in his chili, such as BBQ tri tip or smoked pork loin.  Since I wanted to “make” this for my husband — I don’t do the grilling or smoking, he does — this slow cooker pork recipe came to mind.  And it did not disappoint!

Just the fact that it uses three different kinds of pork, and only one small can of beans, ought to appeal to most guys… it’s one of the first things my husband noticed.

Spicy Smoky Slow Cooker Pork Chili 1
Cook the ground pork just until slightly browned.
Spicy Smoky Slow Cooker Pork Chili 2
Next cook the pork shoulder, also until just browned.
Spicy Smoky Slow Cooker Pork Chili 3
Saute onions, peppers and garlic.
Spicy Smoky Slow Cooker Pork Chili 4
Add the tomato paste and beer to the vegetables.
Spicy Smoky Slow Cooker Pork Chili 5
The seasonings go in after transferring to the slow cooker.
Spicy Smoky Slow Cooker Pork Chili 6
The oh-so-critical ham hock is the last item to go in.
Spicy Smoky Slow Cooker Pork Chili 7
This fragrant bad boy greets you after slow cookin’ all day. Remove the ham hock and bay leaves before serving.
Spicy Smoky Slow Cooker Pork Chili
Weight Watchers Info: 11 PointsPlus per serving (cheese & sour cream are extra)
Recipe type: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Serves: 8
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 pound boneless pork shoulder, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 3 cups chopped onion
  • 1¾ cups chopped green bell pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup lager-style beer (such as Budweiser)
  • ½ teaspoon salt, divided
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tomatillos, quartered
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 (14½-ounce) cans plum tomatoes, undrained and chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added pinto beans, drained
  • 1 (7¾-ounce) can Mexican hot-style tomato sauce (such as El Paso)
  • 1 smoked ham hock (about 8 ounces)
  • 1½ tablespoons sugar
  • ½ cup finely chopped cilantro
  • ½ cup finely chopped green onions
  • ½ cup (2 ounces) crumbled queso fresco
  • 8 lime wedges
Our Modifications:
  • Jeff and I have a really high threshold for hot spicy food, so we usually “up” the hot factor in most recipes. We did the same with this recipe. Substitute bell pepper with 1-1/4 cup Anaheim chilies, and ½ cup red jalapenos. Add 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper with the chili powder.
  • We also swapped out the beer (using a Corona) — we don’t allow Budweiser in the house unless my dad is visiting.
  1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add ground pork to pan; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to slightly crumble. Drain well. Transfer pork to an electric slow cooker.
  2. Recoat pan with cooking spray. Add pork shoulder; cook 5 minutes or until lightly browned, turning occasionally. Transfer pork to slow cooker.
  3. Recoat pan with cooking spray. Add onion and bell pepper; sauté 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add tomato paste; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in beer; cook 1 minute. Transfer onion mixture to slow cooker. Add ¼ teaspoon salt, chili powder, and next 9 ingredients (through ham hock) to slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH 5 hours or until meat is tender. Remove bay leaves and ham hock; discard. Stir in remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and sugar. Ladle about 1⅓ cups chili into each of 8 bowls; top each serving with 1 tablespoon cilantro, 1 tablespoon green onions, and 1 tablespoon cheese. Serve each serving with 1 lime wedge.
You can also cook the chili in a slow cooker on LOW for 8 hours.
For cooking chili on the stove top, use a total of 12 ounces beer and simmer, covered, for 2½ to 3 hours or until the pork shoulder is tender.

One Comment

  1. This recipe looks great! Need to try it sometime.

    In the meantime, do you guys happen to have a good recipe for pork and beans, preferably done in a slow cooker? I have a few ideas of what I can do, but wanted to get your opinions on what should be thrown in.

    Any suggestions would be great; thanks! [K]

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