Monday, December 3, 2007

I Know That Real Texans Won't Let Me Call This Chili

So I like comfort food. I like big pots o' stuff. I also like Mexican flavors (or what I know of Mexican flavors. Cumin, Oregano, Cilantro. I also share CY's desire to be less of a person, at least corporeally. So here you have the skinny-making chili of weight-loss. Or at least the healthy chili that will not add another inch or so to your waste.

Take this stuff here, plus about four good-sized chicken breasts:

Cut the chicken into smaller bite-sized pieces and fry them in olive oil with a pinch of salt and pepper. You're looking for a slight crust to form here. Set them aside on a paper-towel lined plate (see, even I can remove some fat from a recipe).

While that's frying, dice your veg.

When the chicken's out, add the diced spanish onions, about 3 1/2 cups, and saute for a few with salt to sweat. Add 6 minced cloves of garlic and one diced bell pepper (I kept that a bit larger than the onion dice here to make sure the green popped out a little more in the final presentation. Keep going until the onion is translucent and the garlic is fragrant (that means you can smell it).

Add 1 T each of cumin, oregano, and chili powder and stir it through.

Add two cans of rinsed and drained cannellini beans (or red beans, kidney beans, black beans, etc. Remember Muppeteers, we don't discriminate here) and chicken stock to cover plus. I ended up using about 1 and a half boxes to get the liquid I wanted.

Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and add the chicken back in.

Cook it on low for about 15 minutes. Dice half a bunch of cilantro and stir it through. Keep going for another 10-15 minutes. Here's where the flavors start to marry and you ought to check for seasoning and adjust as needed.

While that last bit of cooking is going on, slice up some radishes and green onions and mince the rest of the cilantro for garnish.

Put it in a bowl, serve it with the cornbread.

There are literally millions of variations to this. I contemplated getting a butternut squash, cubing it, and adding it in with the broth. There are bean options, meat options, other veg options. I could have thrown in tomatoes. Whatever. The real idea is a hearty bowl of something with flavors that wake up your brain (and your sinuses). Really, I wanted to sniffle when eating this.


Couple things happened recently. First, it turned cold and rainy here in Charly-West. Second, I followed several food blog links (from cookeatFret to SeriousEats to Homesick Texan)

About the same time, I came across the New York Times on Tex-Mex and the Dallas News on Chilli.

You can also read this or this about competition chili.

And if you're even in our nation's capital, you really need to get off the green line metro at the U Street/Cardozo stop and cross U Street to go here. Really, you want it.

J couldn't stay for dinner. He stopped by and got this:

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