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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Kitchen Sink Chicken Chili

Lately I've been enjoying quick, healthy and comforting meals as the holidays become memories and my normal cooking and eating routines return. There's not much I love more in January than simmering a pot on the stove or in the slow cooker all day long while it's cold and gray outside.

I've especially enjoyed experimenting with soups and stews lately - this is the type of cooking I always seem to come back to this time of year. They're handy for using up some of those neglected cans in the cupboard, and they also inspire me to dig through my fridge and make my fresh ingredients stretch. If only I could remember this feeling next summer when I'm tempted to (yet again) let those last few tomatoes rot on the vine...

All of this is to say: I'm in the mood for chili. What a perfect winter dish. It's a handy way to use up some of those pantry staples, some things floating around in the crisper drawer, and even some recent crock pot leftovers. Get ready for a wacky ingredient list - I call it kitchen sink chili because it has everything but.


Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 head green or savoy cabbage, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 large fennel bulb, sliced thin
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
1 tbsp bottled bbq sauce
12 oz. tomato-based vegetable drink (like V8 - I like Knudsen Organic Very Veggie)
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained
2 C cubed cooked chicken (rotisserie would work well here - I used what was left on a whole chicken from yesterday's crock pot dinner. Smoked chicken would also be lovely.)

Method:

In a dutch oven or large pot over medium heat, saute the cabbage, fennel, garlic and onion in the olive oil until tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in the chipotle pepper, salt, spices, and juice only from the canned tomatoes. Simmer uncovered another 8-10 minutes until liquid is reduced by half. Add the tomatoes (crushing as you add them), chicken, black beans, bbq sauce and vegetable drink. Stir well and simmer covered 15-20 minutes, or until all ingredients are heated through.

This makes a medium-thick, medium-spicy chili - for a spicier finished product, add another chipotle pepper (or just another spoonful or two of adobo sauce). You can also add more or less vegetable drink to reach the consistency you like. This can easily hold on low heat for quite a while - just keep covered and remember to stir occasionally to keep from sticking.

Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream and some cornbread on the side. As a side note, I'm happy to say I finally found another use for my Madeline pan - it makes perfect, puffy little corn cakes. Unitasker no more!

Happy winter cooking!

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