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Pork Cheek and Black-Eyed Pea Chili

Michael Symon defines himself as a "porketarian," saying he can't get enough of the meat. For his luscious chili, he uses incredibly flavorful and succulent pork cheeks—an unusual cut worth seeking out. If pork cheeks aren't available, pork shoulder (cut into 2-inch pieces) can be substituted.

  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 10

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  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 5 pounds cleaned and trimmed pork cheeks (see Note)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound slab bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and very finely chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, finely diced
  • One 12-ounce bottle amber ale or porter
  • 2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 2 cups canned whole Italian tomatoes, crushed
  • 2 canned chipotles in adobo, seeded and minced
  • 1 pound dried black-eyed peas, picked over and rinsed
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • Shredded smoked cheddar cheese, cilantro leaves and crème fraîche, for serving


  1. In a large bowl, combine the coriander, paprika and cumin and toss with the pork cheeks. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add half of the pork and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer the pork to a plate. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and brown the remaining pork over moderate heat. Transfer the pork to the plate.
  3. Add the bacon to the casserole and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and slightly crisp, about 7 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, jalapeños and bell peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Return the pork cheeks to the casserole along with any accumulated juices. Add the ale, chicken stock, tomatoes, chipotles, black-eyed peas and cinnamon stick and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over very low heat until the meat and beans are tender, about 2 1/2 hours. Season the chili with salt and pepper. Spoon off the fat from the surface and discard the cinnamon stick. Serve the chili in bowls. Pass the smoked cheddar, cilantro and crème fraîche at the table.

Make Ahead

The pork cheek chili can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.


You can substitute 5 pounds of pork shoulder for the pork cheeks. Cut the shoulder into 2-inch chunks and proceed with the recipe. Add 30 minutes to the cooking time in Step 4.

Suggested Pairing

Symon's immensely satisfying pork and black-eyed pea chili has such depth of flavor that it pairs best with a beer rich enough to stand up to it. Brown ale is made with malted barley that's been roasted to a dark brown color, helping to impart notes of caramel and toast, which make it a great match here. Look for New Orleans–area brewery Abita Brewing Company's chocolaty Turbodog, or the nutty Newcastle Brown Ale, from England.

Contributed By Photo © Maura McEvoy Published February 2008

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