Seem like everywhere I dip a spoon these days, I’m scooping up turkey chili. It’s everywhere. And I’m not complaining about that. It’s also tasty. BUT…the other day I wondered “Why not chicken chili?” The noble chicken deservers it’s spot on the chili mantle. And Chicken Chili has such wonder alliteration. As soon as I said it to my kids, they went running around the house screaming “chicken chili”. So, I made some. It was very yummy. And so I share with you.
Obviously, I feel good about using lean and healthy ground chicken. I also tend to throw a ton of chopped vegetables into my chili, so it’s a sneaky way to get everyone eating and loving vegetables. And I also use a good amount of beans – again, another pretty healthy food. My back of the envelop calculations on a cup of chili like this puts it at about 250 calories…so it’s a super tasty diet food for me.
Give it a try and let me know how it goes.
Recipe Overview and Keys to Success
To make the best chicken chili, just make sure to do the following
- You’ve got to get a rich layering of flavors to make a good chili. That doesn’t take too much work, but it does take a fair number of ingredients and a lot of time. I like to set aside 6 – 8 hours to allow it to simmer.
- With all the ingredients, don’t forget the humble salt and pepper. Both are needed to make everything else shine.
- Toast the spices and the tomato paste a bit before adding the tomato sauce
- Be creative. It’s hard to go wrong with chili. If you have an idea…go for it! I’ll often add things like maple syrup, coffee, beer…to change up the flavors a bit. Below is a “base” recipe.
Ingredients for Chicken Chili
- 2 lbs ground chicken
- 1 small can tomato paste
- 2 16 ounce cans of crushed tomato
- 1 16 ounce cans white beans
- 1 16 ounce can black beans
- 1 16 ounce can of pinto beans
- 2 - 3 tablespoons cumin
- 2 - 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 1 12 ounce beer
- 2 large diced onion
- 2 diced red bell pepper
- 2 cups-ish diced celery
- 3 – 5 grated carrots
- 1 – 2 green chili peppers like poblano
- 1 quart chicken stock
- 8 finely chopped garlic cloves
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Heat a large pot over med-high heat and coat the bottom in olive oil
- Add the ground chicken, and season with salt and pepper
- Toss the chicken, stirring until fully cooked through
- Chicken will tend to clump up into large pieces. Really try to break up the meat using a wooden spoon.
- Remove the cooked chicken from the pot, and hold in a bowl
- There is probably not a lot of fat in the pot, if there is, drain all but a few tablespoons that you’ll need for cooking the vegetables. If needed, add oil to coat the bottom of the pan.
- Add the onion, peppers, celery, carrot, and garlic, and season with salt and pepper
- Cook over medium heat for about 15 – 20 minutes, string occasionally, until the onion is translucent
- Add the spices, and toast for about 1 minute; stirring to ensure they don’t burn
- Add the tomato paste, and cook for 3 - 4 minutes, until the tomato paste turns a rusty color
- Add the chicken meat back to the pot, along with the crushed tomatoes
- Add enough chicken stock & beer to make the chili fairly loose, and stir-able, like a thin stew
- Bring the chili to a simmer, cover and cook for 3 - 4 hours (at least).
- Open the cans of beans and rinse off the packing liquid, leaving the cleaned beans
- Add the beans to the chili, and continue to cook for at least another hour – 2 is better
- Taste the chili, and adjust the salt and pepper as needed
- If the chili is too thick, add some additional chicken stock to thin it; or alternatively, if too thin, continue to simmer until the chili reaches the desired thickness.
- Serve and enjoy!