Black Bean Chili Surprise

Photo Source: VeryBestBaking

Photo Source: VeryBestBaking

On Wednesday, I shared that our office recently held our annual chili cook-off.  Six chilis were entered in the contest, and I so enjoyed tasting all of the different flavor and texture combinations that my colleagues experimented with.  The various recipes featured everything from bison and spaghetti to turkey and cinnamon.

Although all of the recipes were tasty, I was not surprised when the judges announced that Dennis Henry’s Black Bean Chili Surprise won.  I loved the dimension that the chipotle powder added to the chili and the corn bread topping added the perfect amount of sweet to balance the spice.  And, I had never had a pork-based chili, so that was a special treat.

If you’re looking for a hearty one-dish winter meal with interesting flavors, I think you’ve found what you’re looking for.

*Dennis Henry’s Black Bean Chili Surprise


  • 1 lb. of bacon
  • 2 lb. of pork loin
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ C chili powder
  • 1 ½ t ground cumin
  • 12 oz. beer
  • ½ C ketchup
  • 1 ½ t dried oregano
  • ¾ t salt
  • ¼ t pepper
  • 3 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes with chipotle
  • 2 boxes of Jiffy Corn Muffin mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 C milk
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 2 C shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 8 oz. of diced chilies
  • 4 oz. of Pimiento, drained


  • 1 T seasoned salt
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1 T chipotle chili powder
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 T granulated garlic
  • 1 t cayenne pepper
  • ½ T ground cumin
  • ½ T ground ginger
  • ½ T ground mustard


Cut the pork loin into 4 to 5 equal pieces.  Combine meat rub seasonings in a large zip lock bag.  Add the meat to the bag and make sure all sides are covered with the rub.  Store in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day, preheat the oven to 275*F and lightly oil a Dutch oven or covered oven safe pot.  Place the pork and onion (cut in quarters) in the greased Dutch oven, and cover the pork with the bacon strips.   Cover and bake in the  oven for 3 to 4 hours, until the internal temperature of the pork is 145 degrees.

Once the meat has finished cooking, shred the pork and dice-up the onion and bacon.  Add the diced onion and bacon to a large pan on a medium heat.  Add chili powder and cumin and cook for 1 minute.  Add beer, ketchup, oregano, salt, pepper and beans.  Cover, and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer over low heat 30 minutes.

Transfer to a large casserole dish.  Mix corn muffin mix according to the directions on the box and add the chilies, cheese and pimientos to the mixture.  Layer the muffin batter on top of the chili mix.  Bake in a 425*F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

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How should we champion agriculture?

Photo: Campbell

Photo: Campbell

Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann, the Indiana State Department of Agriculture staff, and a group of Indiana agriculture leaders have formed a task force to determine “how might we promote the good works of Indiana agriculture.” The group named, “Lt. Governor’s Task Force to Promote the Good Work of Indiana Agriculture” has met many times and has focused on the following challenges:

  • Developing a proactive message
  • Reaching the general public
  • Communicating to the target audiences of 18-35 year olds
  • Keeping the message fun and easy to communicate

Visit our website to learn how Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann and the task force are addressing these challenges.

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Celebrating relationships between farms and schools

October is National Farm To School Month.  Check back every Monday of the month for a post about how to incorporate agricultural themes into the classroom.  Today is the last post in this series. 

On Thursday, I had the privilege of going to Mintonye Elementary School in Tippecanoe County to see how the school celebrated Farm to School, and to learn more about Farm to School efforts throughout Indiana.  ISDA is helping lead the efforts alongside Purdue University, the department of education, the department of health and Indiana schools.

WLFI of Lafayette, Hoosier Ag Today and AgriNews all visited.  You can see some of the stories here and here.

I also took quite a few pictures documenting the day.  I enjoyed sampling the cheese from Fair Oaks and bread from Great Harvest, and hearing about the projects students worked on all month.

Did your school do anything special to celebrate Farm to School month?

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