Ah, the best laid plans! After being away from home for two weeks, resuming the routine can be a bit tricky. I chose simple recipes for our dinners, as we did not have much of a chance to catch our breath. We landed around noon on a Sunday, and went back to work early next day. One simple dinner would be a pork chili made in the slow-cooker. It is so convenient to arrive back from work to a dinner waiting for you. So, I set the ingredients at lunch time, and worked the whole afternoon with that feeling of accomplishment and anticipation on the back of my mind. But fate had other plans for us. It turns out that the electricity company stopped by to install a new meter in our backyard, and shut the power off for a little while. We saw them arriving just as we drove away, but did not think much about it. When I arrived home for dinner, the crock pot was off. The meat had stayed inside for 6 long hours, at room temperature. It all went to the trash, even if part of me wanted to cook the heck out of it in a pressure cooker.  I decided safe is better than sorry. We ordered pizza instead. But, undeterred, I bought another piece of meat that same evening, and made this chili next day. It was totally worth it!  I advise you to make it, and if you don’t have a slow-cooker, just use your oven low and slow.


(inspired by America’s Test Kitchen)

3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoons New Mexico chili powder
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup chicken broth
¼ cup strong brewed coffee
2 teaspoons instant tapioca
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
2 to 3 pounds boneless country-style pork ribs
Salt and pepper to taste
fresh cilantro leaves, minced
zest and juice of half a lime

Lightly spray inside of slow cooker with vegetable oil spray. In a small saucepan, heat the tomato paste, New Mexico chili, oil, and garlic powder until fragrant. Add chicken stock, coffee, brown sugar and a pinch of salt. Warm it all together for a minute or so, transfer to slow-cooker. Sprinkle the tapioca, mix to combine.

Season the meat all over with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place in the slow cooker, the liquid does not need to cover the meat, just make sure to spoon some of it over the top. Cover and cook for 5 to 6  hours on low. Half an hour before serving, use a fork to cut the very tender meat in chunks, and mix with the sauce. Leave it for 30 minutes, then add cilantro, lime zest and juice right before serving.


to print the recipe, click here


Comments: Most recipes for this type of chili recommend using pork shoulder or butt, cuts with a lot of fat in them. You can definitely use either, but the drawback is that cutting the meat into chunks is a bit of a pain. I never think it’s going to be a big deal once I grab the huge bag and place in my grocery cart, but then, the moment I open it and realize the task ahead, a sort of sadness invades me. Followed by the Keep Calm and Carry On stance. America’s Test Kitchen hit gold when they changed the game by using boneless, country-style pork ribs. They are equally marbled with fat, and all the work involved is ripping the plastic cover of the grocery tray. I was a bit skeptical because my experience with this type of meat was less than stellar. More often than not, I ended up with meat a bit dried up and with an odd texture. Not the case. These were melt-in-your-mouth tender, very moist and flavorful. Just the right amount of heat for our taste. The quick cooking tapioca thickens the sauce ever so slightly, but I used a lot less than called for in most recipes. You could omit it, if you don’t mind a bit of a watery sauce.


Phil enjoyed the chili over white rice and some Ranch style beans, I opted for cauli-rice and half an avocado, with the mandatory drizzle of lime juice.  The package I bought had three pieces of country-style ribs, a little over 3 pounds total. Leftovers were enough for another full dinner for both of us.


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  1. How stressful to see your whole dinner sitting there at room temperature after 6 hours! I’m so glad you persevered, because I am saving this recipe. It looks so delicious!!

    I usually have to take a few days off after a trip, sort of a “vacation from my vacation,” to recuperate. You are a trooper!


    • we did not have that luxury this time – but I know what you mean, it is very hard to jump back without at least one full day of rest. Considering we were also working at the university in Sao Paulo, the week after our return was pretty difficult. But we got over it! 😉


  2. That does look good, and I am sure tastes great, like ALL your recipes.

    One question though..What in the world is a boneless rib?? It appears to be a contradiction in terms.

    Do you think that a pressure cooker would work just as well? We don’t own a slow cooker, unless you count the sousvide setup.



  3. Speaking of contradictions in terms, it’s a little jarring to see a recipe titled “New Mexico Pork Chili.” Here in New Mexico, it’s always “chile.”

    Having said that, the idea of using country style ribs seems a bit brilliant; so much easier than tearing apart a big pork butt. It should also cook faster and more evenly. I’m trying it soon.



    • BTW, I always thought that chile referred to the pepper, whereas chili would be the whole dish, I mean the spicy stew made with all types of chiles

      I guess I was mistaken….


      • I could see where you might think that, but it’s all chile here. The red and green sauce you often find in NM cooking is chile, and normally called either red or green. I never see “chili” used here, unless someone is making a deliberate reference to what is called chili in other parts of the country. The chile spelling is ubiquitous in New Mexico.


  4. Love the look of this chili, Sally. WIth the meat not being minced, it looks so much more stew-like, a big plus in my book. I agree that buying a pork shoulder/butt oft seems like a better idea at the meat counter than it does at home on the cutting board. When I do buy one, I’ll buy it bone-in, only so that I can use the bones in a tomato sauce in the days ahead. I gain strength thinking about that pot of sauce simmering on the stove top. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh wow! This is going on our Sunday night football meal rotation ASAP. Finally a crockpot recipe that doesn’t require you to brown meat in a skillet and dirty the whole kitchen first! I stumbled on the value of those boneless country style pork ribs a few years ago. And — just hit our 13th year living in New Mexico earlier this month and still write chili instead of chile (Mean corrected me over at CT, I think more than once).


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