Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Against the cold

I don't know if you've heard, but it's been cold in New York. And very snowy.

Once Christmas is over and the chill in the air is no longer a quaint backdrop to the holiday festivities, real winter sets in here. With its wind chill and its "wintry mix" forecasts. It urges us to spend more time indoors, away from the giant piles of hardened, gray snow and puddles of half frozen slush. Winter is the perfect time for slow-cooking recipes.

{chicken chili}

When looking at the forecasted temperature/wind chill combination makes you whimper, it's time to break out your largest pot and some chicken stock. Which is something I've been doing a lot this winter with this simple chicken chili. In part because it's hearty and warming and in part because it lets me say "Oh no, I can't go outside right now. My soup won't be done for three more hours." Plus, it's a perfect vehicle for tasty toppings. 

This isn't the heavily spiced chili a lot of us are used to. It might be more accurately called "chicken and bean stew." Whatever you call it, it's thick, slightly spicy, and a backdrop for whatever you feel like adding. It's good hibernating food.

Chicken Chili with Pinto Beans
Adapted from this recipe.

- 1 whole chicken, cut up (or 3 cups cooked chicken)
- 1 whole large onion, diced
- 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cans chopped green chiles (fire-roasted, if you can find them)
- 1 pound dried pinto beans, rinsed
- 8 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1-2 jalapenos, sliced
- 1 1/2 tbsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp. chili powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 tbsp masa (corn flour) or cornmeal
*Optional toppings: grated jack or cheddar cheese, chopped cilantro, tomatoes, jalapenos and avocado, sour cream.

Cover chicken with water and cook for 20 to 30 minutes or until cooked through. Remove the meat from the bones. Set aside.

In a large pot over medium-high heat, saute onions and garlic for 2 minutes. Add chopped green chilies, then rinsed beans. Pour chicken broth into the pan and add sliced jalapenos. Season with salt, pepper, cumin and chili powder. Place lid on pot and reduce heat to low. Cook for 2-3 hours or until beans are done. Halfway through the cooking process, add 3 cups of cooked chicken.

When beans are tender, mix milk with masa (or cornmeal) and pour into the chili. Cook for an additional ten minutes to thicken. Check seasoning and adjust to taste.

Garnish with cilantro, sour cream, cheese, chopped tomatoes, jalapeno and avocado if desired. Serve with cornbread.


  1. Ugh! It is so true that real winter has set in! This recipe looks perfect for a warm lunch or dinner- I love spicy food so I think I'd opt in on the jalepeno.

  2. Ooh, then definitely go with the two jalapenos in the recipe - one is just a tiiiiiny bit spicy, but two has some kick!


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