bowl of chili

I had to be careful. If I blew it, Suzen was not going to make this dish for me. I could not seem selfish or self-serving. That requires enormous concentration and energy. You could argue that if I just focused on being … What fun is that?

“You, uh, you do like jalapenos?” I asked her.

She put down the paper and her coffee. “What are you talking about? Are we married or not?”

“No, no,” I said. “It’s just with the acid reflux you’ve been having, I wondered if you could eat, say, a cooked jalapeno?”

“Cooking in what?” she asked. Her eyebrows were up. If our cat’s ears are up, I know that is good. If Suzen’s eyebrows are up, and her ears are twitching, that’s bad.

“Cooked in a little cheese. Sort of soothing.” I had to back her down.

“Maybe.” The eyebrows lowered. “Show me.” She extended her hand.

I passed her our new copy of The Whole Hog Cookbook by Libbie Summers. It was open to the picture of this chili with its jalapeno cheese dumplings.

She seized book, staring with the recipe but here attention immediately shifted to the picture: a steaming bowl of chili topped with dumplings. Her eyebrows descended fully. The ears were motionless. Her eyes shifted to me. “Why the hell didn’t you say so? Get your wallet. We’re going to Whole Foods.”

This book, The Whole Hog Cookbook, is brilliant, one of the best cookbooks we’ve seen in a year. Author Libbie Summers has earned her credibility with a lifetime in food. She began as girl visiting her grandparents’ hog farm in Missouri. She’s been a private chef on yachts [tough work but someone has to do it], worked for many food companies, is a food stylist master [see the pictures in this book], and is now the “driving force in kitchens of Paula Dean.”

Every time you turn the page in this book, you stop. You may want to begin cooking at once, or you may need to read to make sure you understand what the devil you are looking at:

  • Sweet Potato Pork Pie
  • Sweet Tea-Brined Pork Roast
  • Buttery Potted Ham
  • Prosciutto Pretzel Knots
  • Bacon Beignets
  • Rosemary Bacon Scones

This is one of those cookbooks that you’ll keep close at hand. You can cook your way through it all this fall and winter.

Besides the recipes, there well-photographed how-to sections demonstrating techniques for preparing your meat, like how to remove the membranes from pork ribs. Literally everything you need to know for creating outstanding pork dishes is all here in this craftily written work.

Oh, the dumplings? Oh, those dumplings. I love this chili, and it is a bit spicy, but the dumplings are what will bring the tears to your eyes.

Hog-Tied and Hungry Chile with Jalapeno Cheese Dumplings

Yield: 6 servings


For the chili:

  • 1 pound dried black beans, rinsed and drained 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 large sweet onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 (4 ½  ounce) cans chopped green chiles
  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • 2 cups tomato juice
  • 2 cups pork stock (page 154)
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

For the dumplings:

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup masa harina
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon lard or vegetable shortening, melted
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 jalapeno chile, seeded and minced


In a large stockpot, cover the beans with 3 inches cold water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, simmer for 2 hours, or until the beans are fork tender. Drain the beans and set aside.

In the same large stockpot, cook the pork until the meat is no longer pink. Stir in the onion, garlic, green chiles, chipotle, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper.

Sauté for 10 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Stir in the beans, tomatoes, tomato juice, stock and chocolate. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the dumplings: Whisk together the all-purpose flour, masa harina, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate mixing bowl  whisk together the egg, milk, lard, and honey.

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just  combined. Stir in the cheese and jalapenos.

Drop heaping tablespoons of the dumping dough into the simmering chili, leaving a little space between the dumplings so they do not touch. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. Do not lift the lid while the dumplings are cooking. The dumplings should be firm to the touch, still moist in the center. Serve hot.

Source: The Whole Hog Cookbook by Libbie Summers