I had to talk Jeff out of soaking the beans with wood chips. He was on a smoke kick. He wanted every ingredient to be smokey for the then upcoming Brooklyn Chili Takedown. It was going to be tricky. We both were traveling on family business the two weeks prior to the contest, so we started three weeks early. Charred leeks? Nah. What kind of beans? Something new! This would be better if we had a smoker...
We landed on a recipe we were ecstatic to share and dubbed it THE SMOKEMONSTER (yup, from LOST). Also, not sorry that I made this dumb video:
Beans take forever. That is my only takeaway from this. If you don't have a smoker, you can dry the tasso in the oven on low, the door held open with a wooden spoon.
|Things you'll need:|
|1 pack of Roman beans
1 jar of Pepperoncini (de-stem, chop and keep juice)
1 can of peeled tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
2 jalapenos, stemmed and chopped
1 chile de arbol, soaked in hot water
1 guajillo pepper, soaked in hot water
2 lbs of boneless pork shoulder|
"I want everything to be smokey" Jeff said again.
I broke down each component in a Google Doc. How can we infuse smokiness in every single level of our competition chili? It had to start with our protein. Been a while since we cured anything, so I headed straight to my copy of Charcuterie. The recipe for tasso ham sang out at us and we had to test it.
Basically you make a curing salt rub and leave the meat in the fridge for a day. You rinse it and coat it in a thick rub consisting mostly of allspice. It goes into a smoker and then you can dice it up for any gumbo or in our case, chili. The only real modifications we made were in the rub, where we put in a diluted mix of ghost pepper powder and breadcrumbs.
We were lucky enough to have access to the smoker at Montana’s Trail House in Bushwick (thanks Nate!). If you don’t have a smoker, don’t worry, you can still accomplish stellar tasso in an oven on the lowest setting with a wooden spoon propping the door open.
When we tested 6 types of beans, our hands down favorite was the Roman variety (better known as the cranberry bean). It is very similar to a pinto bean but this Italian strain has a thicker skin. We liked that it didn’t disintegrate after long hours of cooking and still had a chewy yield.
Our beans were soaked overnight and rinsed. Don’t ever cook beans in the soaking liquid because it includes the indigestible sugars that makes you toot toot. But if you value flavor over gaseous comfort, by all means!
We threw the beans into the slow cooker with a can of whole peeled tomatoes, a whole jar of pepperoncinis (juice and all) and water to cover. As they were finishing, I charred the onion and jalapeños in the broiler, mashed those up and stirred that into the beans. Took the chile de arbol and guajillo, took their stems off and pureed them. Mixed that into the beans, too.
For competition day, I diced the tasso and tossed them in sugar for a quick broil before throwing them at the last minute into our chili. Usually I would advocate for putting the tasso into the beans right away to meld together, but I knew we’d have at least 2 hours of standing heat at the venue.
We ended up getting 2nd place, people's choice! Hooray!
Would you like us to make you a batch for your party? Let us know.