Chicken Chili / by Amy Cantu

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chicken chili

I love all versions of chili - beef or chicken (ground or chunky), with or without beans, all beans no meat, added veggies, or just tomatoes - it all has a place in my heart (and my belly). I was having a rough day, when I decided to make this chili. You know, one of those days where you are jolted awake from a deep sleep, realize you are late, and then the universe throws in a few obstacles to keep you on your toes - cranky kids, a stubbed toe, and some rain for good measure. I needed some comfort food, and I also was not about to make another trip to the grocery store. Who knows what could happen to me between here and there? I had boneless, skinless chicken breast in the house, so that’s what I used to make this chili. Because it’s made with chicken, the chili is much lighter than traditional beef chilis, but it still packs in a lot of flavor from the extra tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers. The best thing about this chicken chili is that it tastes amazing on the day you make it, and even better the next day, after all the flavors have had a chance to meld together. Cynthia added a pan of perfect, buttery cornbread, and suddenly all felt right in the world again.

Notes: I served this to four small children (who ate it enthusiastically), so I omitted the red pepper flakes and cayenne. If you like a lot of spices in your food, you may find that you want to add additional chili powder. Make sure to taste it and adjust to fit your tastebuds!

This is also delicious with chipotle peppers, which add a smoky flavor and some heat. Add 2-3 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped, and omit the dried pepper flakes and cayenne. To make it vegetarian or vegan, omit the chicken and use four cans of beans (different types), and choose your toppings accordingly.

Read More: The Shared Chili

Developed from Ina Garten’s recipe.

Time: 2 hours
Servings: 8

4 cups chopped yellow onions (3 onions)
1/8 cup good olive oil, plus extra for chicken
4 cloves minced garlic
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and large-diced
2 yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded, and large-diced
1 tablespoon chili powder (or more to taste)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (optional, to taste)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, to taste)
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for chicken
2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled plum tomatoes in puree, undrained
1/4 cup minced fresh basil leaves or 2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
3 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
2 15-ounce cans beans, rinsed and drained (any variety - red kidney, cannelini, pinto, or black beans)
Freshly ground black pepper

Toppings: Grated cheese (Monterey Jack, Cheddar, etc.), chopped cilantro, chopped onions (any type - I used green onions), sour cream, lime wedges, and/or tortilla chips

Crush the tomatoes by hand into small pieces or in batches in a food processor fitted with a steel blade (pulse 6 to 8 times). Reserve.

In a large dutch oven or pot, cook the onions in the oil over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes and cayenne (if using), and salt. Cook for 1 minute. Add the reserved tomatoes and basil to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Rub the chicken breasts with olive oil and place them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast the chicken for 20 minutes, until just cooked. Let cool slightly. Cut chicken into 1/2-inch chunks. Add to the chili along with the rinsed beans and simmer, uncovered, for another 20 minutes.

Serve with the toppings, or refrigerate and reheat gently before serving.