Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cilantro Chicken Chili Cha Cha Slide

Chili has always scared me. Same goes for barbecue. I think it's something to do with fear of the south judging me and southern eating habits I don't really understand. In my wise old age I have grown to adore southerners, their accents, music, and comfort food. While I'm not about to go all Paul Revere and shout of my chili expertise to every hillbilly I come across, I will serve this chili as a proud yankee for the rest of my life. 

I am obsessed with craft beer. Debatably the most significant ingredient of the recipe, I was more than pleased with my purchase of Sam Adam's The Vixen for this recipe. The limited Chocolate Chili Bock out of the Boston Beer Company is full bodied and creamy with layers of spices and dark cherries. A touch of sweetness in the cocoa with the roasted maltiness made for a wonderful balance and umami (savory) qualities. In other words, I was jealous the chili got to enjoy most of the beer and I only got to taste it. 

Picking out the beer among the incredible selection of craft beers available in Chicago was probably the hardest part of the recipe thanks to the wondrous technology of a Crock Pot. Yes, of course you can use a big soup pot. I don't own a soup pot so I settle for the christmas present my grandma gave me 2 years ago that is far too underused.

Saute onions and peppers in a generous drizzle of olive oil until soft and almost caramelized, around 10 minutes on medium heat. Add minced garlic, cumin and chili powder and cook for another 5 minutes or so.

Add sauteed veggies, tomatoes, beans, chipotle pepper, cilantro, heavy sprinkle of salt and beer to pot. Set crock to high and let cook for an hour. In the meantime, boil chicken breast in water until cooked. Let cool and shred using two forks. Add chicken and sweet potatoes to chili. Cook for another 2 hours. Like most slow cooked food, it's better the next day when all of the flavors come together. Be patient my friends. When finished, let chili cool before you stick it in the fridge and try to maintain excitement for tomorrow.

As for the corn bread, I have no shame in a 69 cent box of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix in my caste iron skillet. I opted for a sour cream made by a local amish farm. Fresh cilantro as a garnish is a VERY good idea. I repeat, garnishing this chili with fresh cilantro is seriously gonna make a world of difference. Put fresh cilantro on your chili. Do it.


2 bell peppers, diced (different colors) 
1 yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
15 oz can diced tomatoes 
2, 15 oz can black beans
15 oz can pinto beans
chipotle pepper (in adobo sauce), minced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
16 oz dark beer
2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
1.5 lb sweet potato, skinned and diced