Jerk Pork Chilli- a low fat, high fibre nutritional powerhouse

 

Jerk pork chilli

 

How has your New Year’s diet been going so far? If you’re anything like me, a successful healthy-eating regimen requires variety and flavour. My jerk pork chilli is inexpensive to make, low in fat, and high in fibre and protein. Best of all, it combines zesty Caribbean flavours in a new and inspired way.

As with most of my recipes, this one is easily modified. Use any vegetables or bean varieties you may have on hand, substitute pork for chicken or beef, or leave the meat out all together for a great vegetarian alternative. This recipe makes a lot of chilli, which can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days or the freezer for 3 months.

If you’ve never made your own jerk seasoning before, and tend to go for the stuff in a jar, you will be absolutely amazed at the difference in quality and flavour. The benefit of making your own jerk sauce is obviously that it can be adjusted to fit any level of spiciness you may desire. The fresh citrus adds a burst of brightness and freshens up otherwise heavy flavours.

This recipe can be used with either dry or canned kidney beans. Unlike most canned vegetables, which lose much of their vitamins and minerals during the canning process, beans retain their nutritional value well. As beans need to be cooked for a long time regardless, it makes little difference if they are canned or dry. If using dry beans in this chilli, make sure they soak overnight and prepare yourself for a much longer cooking process.  Canned beans need to be properly rinsed, and cook faster than their dried counterparts.

The addition of agave nectar in this recipe adds a hint of sweetness. Agave nectar is the sweet syrup from the Agave cactus, the base of tequila. It is a natural sweetener, and is commonly used in vegan cooking as it is an animal-free product.

Pork is one of the most misrepresented meats out there. It is much lower in fat than most would expect, and is a versatile meat that compliments a variety of flavours. Canadian pork is arguably the best pork produced in the world, due to stringent feeding and farming laws. Kidney beans are an excellent source of cholesterol-reducing fibre, and prevent blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making them a great choice for people with diabetes and insulin resistance issues. They are also high in iron and manganese, making them a nutritional powerhouse.  The addition of vegetables only helps increase the level of antioxidants, vitamins and fat-busting fibre found in this dish.

 

 

Jerk Pork Chilli

You will need:

1 tbsp olive oil

1 pork tenderloin, cut into small pieces

10 cups beans, any variety; soaked overnight and rinsed or canned and rinsed

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 orange bell pepper, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

6 stalks celery, diced

1 red onion

2 bay leaves

3 litres chicken or vegetable stock, plus 2 litres water

*optional- 1 can crushed tomatoes (substitute for 1 litre water)

Jerk seasoning (see below)

6 tbsp agave nectar

Method:

  1. In a large pot, olive oil over medium-high heat. Add pork bits with a pinch of salt, cook for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the vegetables, and cook gently for another minute or two, sweating but not browning.
  3. Add 4 tbsp of the jerk sauce, ensuring everything in the pot is evenly coated.
  4. Add the beans, and immediately add the stock and water.
  5. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, removing scum that forms at the top.
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook covered for 20 minutes.
  7. Uncover, add the agave nectar, and continue simmering for 40-50 minutes. Add water if the liquid levels become low.
  8. After 50 minutes, taste for seasoning and texture. Continue cooking until beans are soft and liquid has thickened. Adjust the seasoning as needed with salt and pepper.

 

Jerk Sauce

You will need:

12 stems thyme, leaves removed

1 ½ tbsp ground all spice

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground cayenne pepper

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbsp white wine

1-2 scotch bonnet peppers, finely minced (optional- will greatly increase the spice level!)

1 orange, zest and juice

1 tsp vegetable oil

Method:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor.
  2. Store in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 1 month.
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