Weeknight Chicken Chili
I’ve just now made it home from a few weeks of traveling for Over Easy and lemme tell you what’s in the refrigerator: sriracha that needs to be shaken, chicken stock paste (it’s supposed to be a paste so that’s cool), an empty ceramic egg holder, and a 6-few corn tortillas that must have the durability of cockroaches because they look perfectly fine (for lack of a better comparison).
This does not a promising dinner make.
Luckily in my freezer are a few ramekins of a Shepard’s Pie I don’t remember making and I’ll happily de-frost those in the oven, douse them in sriracha and with each bite be glad I didn’t go to the grocery store tonight and tonight only.
I hope your refrigerator and pantry are better stocked than my post-travel single-household food situation. I hope for you, several cans of beans + chicken + chili + at least some cheese if not sour cream and avocado.
Here is this week’s nighttime meal, and if you care about your future self, you’ll tuck a serving away in the freezer for possible homecomings like mine.
Onward and chili-forward.
This recipe comes from one of the sweetest cookbooks in my collection: The Yellow Table by Anna Watson Carl. I love this book because it’s filled with food we actually cook and eat. It’s feasible and inspiring and that’s really saying something.
I took Anna’s recipe for Turkey Chili (totally a great thing to make with leftover Thanksgiving turkey) and transformed it into a weeknight chili made with pantry staples (if you’re meal-prepared like that) or ingredients that you can easily hustle with a visit to a few aisles at the grocery store.
Keep it easy. For the chicken, you might consider buying two cooked chicken breasts from the hot deli at the grocery, you might consider buying a rotisserie chicken (and boiling down the bones for stock), or you might just want to easy-poach your own chicken using this tried and true technique. However you get there… just keep it as easy as you’d like.
Start with the onions in a soup pan with oil and heat.
One of my very favorite places to start.
Think about spices and don’t be shy.
Chili powder, ground cumin, cayenne, dried oregano. Something else tickle you? Add it… I bet you have good instincts.
Cooked onions, garlic, and spiced to stir.
Adding the spices to the onions and garlic (and all their juices and oil) help to release all the good oils from the spice. It’s more fragrant and potent then adding the spices to the soup / chili liquid.
Speaking of liquid:
- canned tomatoes in their juices
- beans beans beans (three canned kinds that you fancy)
- and chicken stock!
Let it simmer away for just about 30 minutes or so to thicken through.
Chicken and cilantro. Get it in there to simmer and heat.
And that’s dinner!
That’s especially special dinner you add diced ripe tomato, grated cheese, jalapenos, a dollop of sour cream and maybe some crushed tortilla chips.
Good life living!
Photos by Jon Melendez.
- 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes in their juice
- 1 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
- sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- 2 cups shredded chicken (from 2 cooked chicken breasts or a rotisserie chicken)
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- diced avocado, sour cream, shredded cheese, and crushed tortilla chips for serving
- In a large, heavy-bottom soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute, stirring occasionally, until translucent and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant and softened, about 2 minutes.
- Add the spices and stir until evenly coated and fragrant.
- Add the tomatoes and their juices, crushing the tomatoes with a wooden spoon.
- Add all of the beans, along with chicken broth.
- Turn heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes until the mixture is thickened.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add chicken and fresh cilantro. Remove from heat. Cover and allow the chicken to heat through.
- Serve in bowls with diced avocado, sour cream, cheese, and crushed tortilla chips.
- This recipe also freezes very well!