Sunday, February 20, 2011

Chicken Chili

Sometimes I can’t quite get this blog together.  I do the cooking, I take the pictures, I write up the recipe, but then sometimes the words simply don’t flow.  Or the words do flow, but rather than flowing like a delicate creek, they flow like muddy water, bursting out of a sewer drain. 

I’m not sure where this blog post falls in that spectrum; however, I can tell you that the recipe was rather tasty.  This chili is definitely not the most beautiful food to come out of my tiny kitchen, but it certainly went down easy.  I have been pondering the concept of chicken chili for a while.  There are so many options: white chicken chili, green chicken chili, chicken chili with beans, tomatoes, etc.  It was a tough decision.  I knew I wanted a chili with some body to it; I personally don’t like chili that has lots heft in terms of the ingredients, but it all swims around in a thin, non-descript liquid.  I also knew that I wanted chunks of identifiable chicken breast, rather than mysterious ground poultry.

Additionally, I decided against white chicken chili in favor of something with more vegetables so that the chili could more or less be a complete meal.  Green chili was tempting, but I ultimately could not deal with shucking all the necessary tomatillos, nor did I want the responsibility of finding respectable tomatillos.  Nothing is more disappointing than having your heart set on a particular ingredient and all you can find at the market turns browned, bruised and undesirable.  I felt this was a realistic concern with tomatillos, and therefore eliminated them from my list of potential ingredients.

Essentially, I organized chili attributes according to what I did and did not want, and my hearty chicken chili grew from there.  It turned out to be loaded with green peppers, spiced with jalapeno, sweetened with tomatoes and corn, thickened with a touch of flour, and made hearty with chunks of chicken and white beans. 
Sounds good, doesn’t it?  Well, it was.  To avoid the wateriness I was previously griping about, I lightly dusted chopped chicken breasts with flour before sautéing it in olive oil.  At this point, don’t worry about the chicken sticking a bit to the pan or being completely cooked through.  Plenty of liquid will be added later that will pick up those browned bits.  It’s more important to let the chicken brown and form a bit of a crust.  Once the chicken has browned, aromatic vegetables were added along with a jalapeno and dried spices.  The medley was then simmered with some chicken stock, canned tomatoes, beans, and sweet corn kernels.  After bubbling for a bit, it was topped off with some shredded cheese.  What could be bad?  I think the key to this dish was that little bit of flour.  You would never know it was there, but this chili had very pleasing texture.  A generous amount of shredded Monterey jack doesn’t hurt the chili, either. 
A note on chopping jalapenos: be careful and wash your hands.  Once, I put in my contacts after chopping a jalapeno.  My family can confirm I actually shrieked from the pain.  So, be sure the wash your hands carefully and/or wear gloves.  The heat from fresh peppers is a little uneven, and I found that it mellowed out in this recipe after the chili sat for a day or two.  If you are concerned about the chili being too spicy, you can remove all or part of the seeds and ribs to reduce the heat.     

Chicken Chili

1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
2-3 tablespoons of flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt, pepper
1 onion, chopped
2 green peppers, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced (remove all or part of seeds/ribs to reduce heat)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried basil
Garlic salt, Lawry's seasoned salt to taste
1-14 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
1-14 oz. can small white beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn kernels (no need to thaw)
2-3 cups chicken stock
Accompaniments:  Shredded jack cheese, hot sauce

-       Chop chicken breast and toss with 2 tablespoons of flour.
-       Add to soup pot, preheated over medium heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
-       Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper.
-       Brown for 5-10 minutes
-       Add chopped onion, bell peppers, garlic, and jalapeno.
-       Add cumin, chili powder, oregano, salt, pepper, and other seasonings (like Lawry’s seasoning salt, my favorite) if desired.
-       Stir occasionally, and cook for 5-10 minutes.
-       Add diced tomatoes, beans, frozen corn, chicken stock*.  Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally
-       Top with desired garnishes.

*Start with 2 cups of stock, adding more if your chili looks too thick.  You can always add more when reheating, as well.

1 comment:

  1. Great chicken chili recipe this is going to be a keeper recipe, thanks so much for sharing. Look forward to making a nice big pot.