Sunday, 26 February 2012

My Shot at Chicken Chili

Now for something completely different. I love to cook. I'm strictly an amateur and can't measure up to the standards of people who actually know what they're doing, but that doesn't hold me back when it's time to take over the kitchen and make a mess. Yesterday I decided to have a crack at chicken chili after having seen a version of it on a recent episode of Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food TV network. As usual I went off the rails and didn't follow the recipe exactly as presented, but the dish turned out pretty well and I thought I'd share it with you here as a change of pace from my usual posts. Ingredients and amounts are listed at the end of the post.

I began with a package of chicken quarters, which I generally buy to make pot pies and so on because they're inexpensive and convenient. I boiled the chicken in a big pot with a couple of bay leaves, then removed the pieces and set them aside to cool. I kept the chicken stock in the pot for later. When I could handle them comfortably I pulled off the meat and set it aside, discarding the rest.

In a large skillet I browned chopped garlic and onion, then added a diced sweet red pepper and a quarter cup of the chicken stock and let it boil for a few minutes, then added tomato paste, diced tomatoes, a quarter teaspoon cumin and quarter teaspoon chili powder, folded together, then added the pulled chicken, all on a medium heat. I let this simmer.

In a second skillet I started with garlic and onion again in a bit of olive oil, then added a can of black beans and a can of red kidney beans. The recipe calls for pinto beans but I didn't have any in the cupboard. Anyway, we all prefer the kidney beans in our chili around here, so it worked fine. I added chili powder and some curry powder, which is definitely not part of the recipe but something I can't resist with black beans. I added another quarter cup of the chicken stock, let this simmer for a while and enjoyed the aroma.

When the beans were ready I combined both skillets into one. Here's where I really cheated: when everything had been folded in and was working together over the heat, I went to the cupboard and grabbed a bottle of butter chicken cooking sauce and folded this in. My wife had suggested this as a sauce and I knew it would be great. When this had worked for a while I added a careful amount of sriracha chili sauce, just enough to know it's there. The original recipe calls for cayenne pepper but I really like the way sriracha sauce works with stuff, so I used it.

The recipe that Guy Fieri presented called for the chili to be served on a bed of corn chips, but this didn't appeal to me. Instead, I went with angel hair pasta, a.k.a. capellini, which is what I like to use when I'm making Cincinnati chili.

Finally, when I plated the chicken chili on the pasta I shredded cheese on top. I used cheddar because that's what I had in the fridge. Now, Fieri had put the dish in an oven for a quick bake of the cheese topping but I was lazy and settled for nuking the plate 25 seconds in the microwave, just enough to soften the cheese. It melted the rest of the way with the heat of the chili itself.

This made for a very enjoyable and filling meal with a lively combination of flavors. Extra note: it was just as good for lunch today out of the refrigerator!

The final verdict was that I was told I could make this dish again if I wanted to. The ultimate compliment around here!

Ingredients: chicken and stock, bay leaves, garlic, onion, olive oil, sweet red pepper, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, cumin, chili powder, black beans, red kidney beans, curry powder, butter chicken cooking sauce, sriracha chili sauce, angel hair pasta, cheese.

Amounts: eyeball the quantities to maintain proportions and season to taste. The kitchen isn't a laboratory, it's an artist's studio, as far as I'm concerned! But then again, I'm an amateur....

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