Chicken Chili

The Holidays were great going down, but personally, I’m glad to have them behind us (with “behind” being the operative word).  I don’t think I ever mentioned it here, but like lots of people, my resolution last New Year’s Eve was to drop a few LBs.  I probably didn’t say anything here because I was afraid of failing in front of all my readers.  But actually (gasp!), I didn’t fail.  It took about six months but I lost a little chunk of weight and two sizes, and a year from where I started, it’s still off.  Okay, one or two might have found their way back on in recent weeks, but I will be dealing with them in short order.

Maybe you’ll agree that one of the challenges about eating lighter in the New Year is that it’s freezing cold outside and nothing tastes better on a frigid winter night than a big bowl of something hot and hearty.   Chilis.  Stews.  Biscuits.  Gravy.  Yum.  This Chicken Chili by Ina Garten is one of my favorite cold weather dishes.  If you are familiar with the super talented Ms. Ina, you know full well the lady never wrote a recipe that didn’t include half a gallon of olive oil or three cups of whipping cream or two pounds of butter.  Kind of funny, actually.  But I’ve found ways around her added calories, and this chili is an old standby for me.

I’ve never really done this recipe the same way twice, I don’t think.  I’ve made it with bone in chicken breasts as called for, and I’ve used a combination of boneless skinless thighs and breasts.  This week, Value Packs of Sendik’s Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts are on sale, so that’s what I’d recommend using – just adjust down the cooking time for the chicken (25 – 30 minutes instead of 35 – 40).  This recipe freezes beautifully, too – I usually make a double batch, cool it down, and ladle it into a large Ziplock bag, and freeze it flat.

Serves 6-8
Source:, or Barefoot Contessa PARTIES!, copyright 2001 by Ina Garten.  pp. 232-233.

2 large yellow onions, diced
3 T. Sendik’s olive oil, plus more for the chicken (I cut this way back)
4 large cloves garlic, minced
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and diced
2 yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded, and diced
1 t. chili powder
1 t. cumin
½ t. dried red pepper flakes, or to taste
¼ t. cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 t. kosher salt
2 28 – oz. cans whole peeled plum tomatoes in puree, undrained (Red Gold Brand are on sale)

½ c. minced fresh basil leaves (**see note)

4 chicken breasts, bone in, skin on (Sendik’s Natural Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast Value Packs are on sale)

Freshly ground black pepper

For serving:
Chopped red onions, corn chips, shredded cheese, and sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350.

Cook the onions in the oil over medium-low heat for 10 – 15 minutes, until translucent.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer.  Add the peppers, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, cayenne, and salt.  Cook for 1 minute.  Crush the tomatoes by hand or in batches in a food processor fitted with a steel blade (pulse 6 to 8 times).  Add to the pot with the basil.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Rub the chicken breasts with olive oil and place them on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle generously with slat and pepper.  Roast the chicken for 35 – 40 minutes, until just cooked.  Let cool slightly.  Separate the meat from the bones and skin and cut it into ¾” chunks.  Add to the chili and simmer, uncovered, for another 20 minutes.  Serve with the toppings, or refrigerate and reheat gently before serving.

**NOTE:  Personally, I think the idea of basil in chili sounds strange.  I had a bunch of cilantro in my fridge, and I used that instead. : )

Featured, Fresh, Frugal, Fabulous, News | January 2nd, 2013