Chicken Chili

Chicken chilli
Chicken chili is totally healthy, without the fat and calorie burden of beef (and/or pork), there’s not a single health-objectionable ingredient in the batch, yet it’s probably the most flavorful dish I’ve made all winter. Black beans add another hit of protein and texture, although feel free to replace them with other beans (kidney, white, etc.), or leave them out altogether.
The chili paste can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge, making this an incredible 30-minute weeknight meal.
for the chili paste
  • 1 to 2 ounces whole, dried chilies, 6 to 8 pods (guajillo)
  • 2 cups very hot/near boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (pimenton)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
for the chili
  • 1/2 cup diced onions
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (about 14 ounces) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (about 14 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon BBQ sauce (use your favorite)
  • 1 can (about 15 ounces) black beans, drained
  • 8 ounces cooked chicken (leftover or rotisserie chicken is great)
prepare the chili paste
  1. Cut off the tops and slice open the dried chilies and remove the seeds. Place the chilies in a bowl and pour the near-boiling water over them to cover. Let soak for 20-30 minutes, until soft. Drain (reserving the soaking liquid), and transfer the chilies to a blender. Add tomato paste, both paprika, salt, cumin, black pepper, and 1/4 cup of the reserved liquid. Blend until smooth, stopping as needed to scrape down the blender. You might also need to add a tablespoon of extra water (I recommend using fresh water – don’t worry about diluting the paste; you won’t) with each scraping to create a volume through which the blades can slice. Depending on the competency of your blender, you might want to push the finished paste through a wide-mesh sieve, to catch any large slivers of chili. Set the paste aside. (Makes about 1/3 cup, depending on how much liquid you added during blending).
prepare the chili
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the chicken stock in a 4 quart stock pot or dutch oven until the stock begins to sizzle. Add the onions and peppers, and saute until soft (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic, and stir briefly.
  2. Add the chili paste and continue stirring until the chilies become fragrant. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken stock, BBQ sauce, black beans, and chicken. Increase heat and bring to a light boil, then reduce to maintain a simmer. Cook for at least 15 minutes (longer, if you have the time). Let rest 10 minutes before serving (chili will continue to thicken).
  3. To serve, ladle into bowls and top green onions and other garnishes as desired. Suggested toppings include sour cream, guacamole, green onions, sliced fresh jalapenos, shredded cheese, crumbled Fritos.

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