Wife Jan has asked me to make blue cornbread. In and of itself cornbread is not a meal, it does though pair very well with chili. Wife Jan is on the Noom program and is pushing me away from red meat—so I am switching one of my chili recipes to chicken. This is a weekday meal, so I am taking a few shortcuts—like canned beans. I also have chili powder left over from the last time I made chili.
Karl’s Chicken Chili with Beans
1 lb. chicken thighs
1 tsp. Karl’s Chili Powder OR your preferred chili powder
½ tsp. Kosher salt, separate uses
2 Tbs. corn oil, separate uses
1 yellow onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 beefsteak tomato, seeded and chopped
½ red bell pepper, diced
1 Anaheim chili, diced
1 jalapeño chili, finely diced
1 bunch cilantro, separate uses
6 large cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs. tomato paste
2 Tbs. Karl’s Chili Powder OR your preferred chili powder
1 can (14.5 oz.) chicken broth, low sodium
1 Tbs. Better than Bouillon, Roasted Chicken Base, low sodium
29 oz. can of pinto beans
1 cup cilantro leaves
1. Cut the chicken into 1 inch pieces.
2. Sprinkle a quarter teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of chili powder on the meat.
Tip: Let the meat marinate in the spices for 10-15 minutes.
3. Put all of the ingredients in a bowl and stir to mix.
4. While the meat is marinating, cut the chilies and bell pepper in half and remove the veins and seeds.
Tip: Many recipes call for you to roast the chilies and to remove the skins—in some dishes the skins can introduce a bitter flavor. This chili is spicy enough that any slight bitterness will be insignificant.
5. Cut the tomatoes in half across the equator and scrape the seeds and jelly into a sieve placed over a small bowl.
Tip: Press the jelly through the sieve and reserve the liquid. Discard the seeds.
6. Dice the onion, celery, chilies, pepper and tomatoes and reserve.
Tip: Put the onions and celery in one bowl, the peppers in a second bowl, and the chopped tomatoes in the bowl with its juices.
7. Cut off the top of the bunch of cilantro and reserve the leafy pits for later.
8. Mince the cilantro stems finely, reserve.
9. Put one tablespoon of oil in a Dutch oven and heat it until shimmering over medium high heat.
10. Fry the chicken in the oil for 6-8 minutes, until well browned on both sides.
11. Transfer the meat to a plate and add the second tablespoon of oil.
12. Add the onions, celery, and the remaining salt to the pot and use the liquid released by the vegetables to deglaze the bottom of the Dutch oven.
13. Sauté the vegetables until the onions are starting to caramelize, about 8 minutes.
14. Pull the vegetables to the sides of the pot and add the garlic, tomato paste and the chili powder to the hole in the center of the pot.
15. Sauté the mix, stirring constantly, until the garlic is fragrant and the tomato paste and spices are beginning to darken, about two minutes.
Tip: Add a splash of water or chicken stock to deglaze the pot.
16. Add the peppers and cilantro stems to the pot and mix them into the vegetables.
17. Continue sautéing the vegetables for 4-5 minutes.
18. Stir in half of the tomatoes, the chicken broth, the bouillon paste, and the pinto beans with its liquid.
Tip: The bean liquid is the bean cooking water from the canning process, it is full of bean starch, nutrients and flavor—do not waste it.
19. Bring the pot to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low, and cover the pot.
20. Simmer the chili for 15-20 minutes.
21. Drain the beans, but reserve any liquid.
Tip: If you decide to thicken your chili with corn starch, you may use this liquid instead of water.
22. Stir in the reserved tomatoes and about half a cup of the cilantro.
Tip: Coarsely chop the cilantro before adding it and reserve the remaining greens to serve on the side to be added to the individual bowls chili by the diners.
Note: Do not chop the leafy greens until just before adding them or they might turn brown along the cut edges.
23. Continue cooking for 15 more minutes, until the tomatoes are heated through and the chili is to your desired thickness.
Note: There are many ways you may thicken your chili. You may crush a quarter cup of the beans, or use corn meal instead of corn starch. Many cooks grind up a corn tortilla and stir it in.
24. Serve the chili warm with corn tortillas and your choice of toppings—raw chopped onions, the cilantro leaves, cheese, hot sauces and, today, blue cornbread.