The appeal of fall is all around us - pumpkins, hot chocolate and football games, Frito Pie, cool mornings, early evenings. The first burst of warmth in the spring feels so good but what I really love is that same feeling of warmth in the fall. The cool air comes in and feels nice, but the left over warmth of summer fights hard to stay in place; it seems like the warm air battles to shine brighter than the cool air. That feeling is unmatched. But when warmth does give way to cool, it’s time to start thinking of soups and stews simmering in the kitchen. We often look to this kind of soul warming one-pot meals during fall and winter.
How ‘bout a big, warm bowl of Tex-Mex Cassoulet? It may sound like a contradiction of terms – Tex-Mex and French Cassoulet, (Julia Child would probably want to give me a spanking). But hey – we make posole in the Southwestern part of the US, which is a thick Mexican soup made with hominy and pork. Cassoulet originated in the Southwestern region of France and is a bean stew or casserole often containing pork. ‘Sounds like a great marriage to me. And forgive me, but we really put the pig to work in this one with cubed pork chops and bacon! But I think you’ll like the union of flavors. Now if you have anyone in your household that refuses to eat hominy, substitute it with 1 ½ cups frozen corn, or 1 to 2 diced potatoes. Enjoy food made fresh!
1 cup dried Pinto or Anasazi beans, sorted and rinsed
6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into small pieces4 boneless, center-cut pork chops, cubed
1/3 cup flour
1 medium onion, diced
1 teaspoon salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped - divided
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons chipotle pepper paste*
1 teaspoon cumin
5 cups chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine
1 - 15 ounce can of hominy, drained
Rinse beans and place in bowl; cover with water and soak overnight or about 8 hours. Drain water from beans and set aside. Heat Dutch oven over medium-high heat and begin to brown bacon pieces. Toss pork chop cubes in flour. Add cubed pork to bacon pieces and continue browning. Add onions and salt and cook until onions are tender, about 5 minutes. Next add beans, garlic, 1 tablespoon cilantro, tomato paste, chipotle paste, cumin and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 hour or until beans are tender. Stir in wine and hominy and place Dutch oven in preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Top with remaining cilantro and cornbread croutons before serving. Makes 8 servings.
*I make chipotle paste by smashing diced chipotle peppers with a fork and some of the adobo sauce they are canned in. Chopped peppers work fine but I like the chipotle flavor without biting into a piece of the hot pepper
**Cut cornbread into small cubes and toast in skillet over medium heat with a tablespoon of melted butter. Toss to coat all sides with butter, and brown for 3 or 4 minutes