Sunday, February 20, 2011

Chicken Chili

Wintertime calls for heat. Heat in the home, and heat in the belly. This is a nice, mild chili that's spicy enough to be cozy, but still painless.

The recipe I started with came from the Food network, and it was ok. But it looked more like a stew than a nice, thick chili. So I modified a bit, and finally came up with a recipe that I like.

Ingredient lists for chili can get to be be pretty long... thankfully this one isn't as involved as some of the other chilis I've seen out there.

Ingredient list:
1 Onion, chopped
2-3 stalks celery, finely chopped
3 medium poblano peppers, seeded and finely chopped
2-3 jalapeno or serrano peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1 clove garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper... or more, to taste.
2 chicken or turkey breasts, cubed, or 1 lb ground turkey
2 cans cannelini beans, rinsed
2 cans sweet corn
2 C chicken broth
2/4 tsp dried oregano

First step, finely chop the peppers, celery, and the onion.

Second step, prepare the meat. The original recipe called for ground turkey, which works, but I wanted a more textured experience, rather than a bowl of mush. I've been using chicken breasts, and rather than cubes, I've been cutting quarter-sized slices. I keep my chicken in the freezer, and when it's time to cook, I thaw them half-way, so they're soft enough to cut through, but firm enough to work with easily. For this recipe, I slice them lengthwise into inch-wide strips, and then chop those down in 1/8" slices. It's a thick enough slice to provide that meaty texture, but it's not so big that it's an effort.

The original recipe was more like a stew than a nice, thick chili. So, to thicken things up, I pour half a can of corn, with the juice, into the food processor with half a can of beans, and the garlic clove, and puree everything.

To start, pour the olive oil into a dutch oven. (A soup pot will work well if you don't have a dutch oven. If you're in the market for a dutch oven, I recommend looking for an oval shaped one, for reasons I'll get into.) Add the peppers and onions and celery, and cook until soft, which is typically 8-10 minutes.

Add the cumin, coriander, and cayenne, and stir them in until the pot starts to get fragrant... typically another minute or two.

Add the meat, and cook until it's no longer pink. (2-3 minutes, or longer if it's still half-frozen.)

Add the beans, the pureed mix, the chicken broth, and the oregano. cook for another 25 minutes, partially covered. (This is where the oval pot shines... rotate the lid 90 degrees, and it will still sit solidly on top of the pot. )

After 25 minutes, stir in the corn, and cook for 5 more minutes.

My personal suggestion is to serve this up with some home made corn bread. Yum. (Ariel has been making the corn bread to go with this chili, and it's been fantastic.) Recipe makes around 6 servings, which means it's something you can cook up a pile of and use for lunches during the week. Chili smells great in the microwave, and the yellow and green colors of this particular

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Turning a corner?

The Piss Ant Kitchen has turned a corner. Literally.

(Now it turns left into the dining room.)

As I was in the middle of dinner prep tonight, Ariel asked if there was anything she could do, bearing the same facial expression she always has when she asks this question. This particular look is something along the lines of 'I'd really like to be helpful, but I know there's nothing I can do... we don't have space, and you normally hog all the glory anyway.' I was in the middle of hacking up a piece of turkey breast, but had enough presence of mind to think for a minute, and realize "Actually... Yes!"

Having the auxiliary table out in the dining room area gave Ariel a place to work on her part of the meal, (which was AWESOME) while I was working in the kitchen. The doorway from dining room to kitchen is still the bottleneck, but as long as she comes through saying where she's headed, it works. (If she's headed to the sink, I stand in front of the fridge. If she needs to get into the fridge, I step back in the direction of the sink.)

I'm not going to say this is an optimal arrangement for two people to cook effectively at the same time. But we're figuring out how to make it work, so there's hope.

Piss-Ant Kitchen: proof positive that you don't have to have a great kitchen to make great food.