Thursday, May 23, 2013

Chicken Chili

This chili has been in my arsenal for quite some time now. It's really easy to make, can feed a crowd, and the leftovers are great. It seems that the longer this sits in the fridge, the better it tastes. Of course, it's still delicious the first day. 

Chicken chilies I've had in the past always seemed more like a soup to me - the flavors were kind of there, but the consistency just wasn't reminiscent of chili. Since the chicken isn't ground (nor would I want it to be), there is kind of a sacrifice to the comforting thickness of a ground meat chili. I tried adding some corn meal to thicken the broth, and haven't turned back. Not only do you get a more satisfying viscosity to the liquid, there is fantastic flavor imparted by the corn meal. It works really well with the combination of beans and peppers used in this recipe. 
As far as chilies go, this one is super fast. You don't have to simmer for a long time in order to get nice developed flavors. You can also use whatever combination of peppers look good to you; as long as you have a jalapeño in there, you're good to go.


1.5 - 2 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 large sweet onion, diced
2 - 3 large poblano, anaheim, cubanelle, or banana peppers, small dice
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
8 - 10 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp Mexican (or regular) oregano
1 Tbsp cumin
Adobo seasoning (if you can't find this in the grocery store, its easy to make your own.)
2 bay leaves
2 quarts low sodium chicken stock
2 cans great northern or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
~1/2 cup corn meal
cilantro (optional)

Add oil to a large dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat. Pat chicken thighs dry on both sides and lightly sprinkle (as you would with salt) Adobo on each side. Nestle thighs into pot (you may have to do this in 2 batches to avoid crowding the pan) and cook for 5 - 6 minutes on each side till golden brown. Remove chicken to a plate and set aside.

There should be enough residual oil left in the pot, but if not add ~1/2 Tbsp more. Add the onion and peppers, and dial heat back to medium. Add a couple splashes of the chicken stock and scrape up all the browned bits. Cook for about 10 minutes till the onions and peppers are softened, stirring often.  Add the garlic, oregano, and cumin and stir for about 1 minute or so. Add the remaining chicken stock and bay leaves. Place chicken back into pot and cook covered over medium low heat for about 20 - 25 minutes. 

Remove chicken thighs and place on a cookie sheet to expedite cooling. Add the beans to the stock and increase heat to medium. Once chicken is cool enough to handle, shred it into bite size pieces using your hands. Add the chicken back to the pot. Slowly add the corn meal into the chili while stirring constantly, ensuring the corn meal isn't sticking to the bottom of the pot, for about 5 minutes or until chili is thickened. You may want to add a bit more if the chili isn't as thick as you want it, but a word of warning - it takes a couple minutes for the corn meal to swell and thicken the chili, so don't be over zealous.

If you like, tear off a handful or two of cilantro and add to chili. Stir well and serve immediately. A squeeze of lime and some Mexican crema are lovely additions.

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