Thursday, November 11, 2010

Guilt-Free Chicken Chili

Well, winter finally decided to come to Denver after two months of weather-confusion, and on Tuesday we had our first snowfall of the season.  Ok, so it was only about 1/2 an inch, and it lasted for an hour, but I am willing to celebrate regardless.  Plus, it has been dumping in the mountains.  To celebrate what is arguably my favorite season (the others have decent contention as well), I made some hearty, healthy chili.

Chili often gets written off as time-consuming or unhealthy.  This one is neither. The recipe originated from Real Simple's Chili for a Crowd, but has been adapted very liberally.  My two favorite things about this chili:  I combined white chicken meat and red chili (probably shameful to true connoisseurs), and it has beer.  It can also be easily transformed to vegetarian: scrap the chicken, add a few more beans, and switch out the chicken stock for veggie stock.  It went well with some simple low-fat buttermilk cornbread (recipe to come) and pale ale.  

This takes about 1 hour, and will serve 6-8 hungry people.  It freezes very well.

Chicken Chili (serves 8)
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 bell peppers, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 3-4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1” cubes
  • 1 6-oz can tomato paste
  • ¼ cup of chili powder (if desired add 1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder)
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 12-ounce bottle or can of lager beer
  • 1 ½ cups chicken broth
  • 2 15-ounce cans kidney beans
  • 1 15-ounce can great northern or white kidney beans
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • Salt and black pepper


My favorite toppings are listed below, but be creative.  Cheese and sour cream are popular with dairy-lovers.
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Diced avocado
  • Scallions
1.   Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat, add onions, garlic, and bell peppers and sauté until onions are transparent (about 5 minutes)
2.   Add chicken, cumin and chili powder(s) and cook 5 more minutes, stirring often
3.   Add tomato paste and cook 1-2 minutes before adding diced tomatoes, beans, 1 teaspoon of salt and some ground pepper and cook 10 minutes
4.   Add beer and broth, and reduce heat to medium-low, simmer uncovered 30 minutes, add salt and pepper to taste
5.   For a richer flavor: add a little extra broth and simmer 15 minutes longer on low heat

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