Creamy Chicken Chili

My husband wanted to make corn bread and asked what we should have with it. I suggested chicken chili and then said I knew he wouldn’t really approve. Chili for him is a tomato-based dish and chicken chili, at least in my mind and creation, is not. So I’ll compromise and put the chili in quotes. Or you can call this a creamy chicken stew if you like.

I use chicken thighs in this dish because they are very forgiving if you over shoot the recommended 175°F temperature. Since they get cooked through, and then added back as shredded chicken, we can use the extra insurance.

Creamy Chicken Chili
Servings: 6-8
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 2 poblano peppers
  • 2 Serrano peppers
  • ~4 lbs. bone-in chicken thighs (about 8), skin removed
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 lg. green bell pepper, 1/4″ dice
  • 1 lg. Spanish (red) onion, 1/4″ dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 cups unsalted chicken broth
  • 1×14.5 oz. can white beans, such as Great Northern, drained
  • 4 oz. room temperature cream cheese, cut into 8 cubes
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Optional: sour cream, cheddar cheese, avocado, radishes

Directions:

  1. Char the outside of the poblano and Serrano peppers, either by placing over a gas burner or under the broiler in the oven, until well blackened on all sides. Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 5 minutes.
  2. Trim excess fat from the skinned chicken thighs. Sprinkle generously with kosher slat and black pepper.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 5 quart Dutch oven over medium high heat until just shimmering. Add thighs to the pan, placing what would be the skin side down first. Do not crowd the pan, rather work in batches (it took me 2 batches). Cook ~4 minutes on each side then transfer to plate while you brown the second batch.
  4. Pull the Dutch oven off the heat and look at how much fat is left. Add or drain so that you have about 2 tablespoons of fat. Return to medium heat for about 30 seconds then add the onions and bell pepper. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Stir to distribute and coat with oil. Cook for about 5 minutes until the onion is translucent.
  5. While the onions/peppers cook slip the charred skin from the poblanos and Serranos. A paper towel can help in this. Try to avoid running under water, it washes off some of the flavor along with the charred skin. Remove the seeds from the peppers. Roughly chop the Serranos to match the garlic. Cut the poblanos into 1/4″ squares.
  6. Push the onions/peppers to the side of the pan and add the garlic, Serranos and poblanos. Cook until the garlic is fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute.
  7. Add the chili powder and stir until it coats the vegetables. Stir in the chicken broth. Nestle the thighs into the Dutch oven, submerging them as best you can. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes.
  8. Grab the largest thigh with tongs and check the temperature with an instant read thermometer. If the result is less then 175°F return the thigh to the pot, partially cover and cook another 5 minutes. Test again until the thighs are all at least 175°F.
  9. Transfer cooked chicken to a plate. Add the beans to the pot along with the cubes of cream cheese. Stir to help the cream cheese melt. Reduce the temperature to low.
  10. Using 2 forks pull the chicken from the bones and shred it as best you can. Return the chicken to the pot as you complete each thigh. Stir everything together and serve.

Notes:
You may want to lower the temperature under the Dutch oven to medium-low before browning the second batch of thighs to avoid burning the fond in the bottom of the pan.

The leftovers, if any, could be used to make an interesting creamy chicken enchilada sort of dish.

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Lamb Stew with Orzo, Olives and Butter Beans

The general structure for this dish comes from one in Modern Mediterranean Cooking by Elen Balashova. Her recipe suggested this dish could be completed on the cook top is around an hour by just simmering the lamb shanks. Having cooked lamb shanks before I just didn’t see that happening. So I turned to the pressure cooker to speed up the process. I also added red bell pepper for some color, Serrano pepper for a bit of heat and preserved lemon for a deeper flavor. A finish with fresh lemon juice helps awaken the broth.

Lamb Stew with Orzo, Olives and Butter Beans
Servings: 6-8
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 90 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. peanut oil
  • 2 lamb shanks (about 4 lbs. total)
  • 1 onion, 1/4″ dice
  • 1 red bell pepper, 1/4″ dice
  • 2 serrano peppers, diced fine
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced fine or pressed
  • 8 cups water, divided
  • 4 springs fresh oregano
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 4 oz. orzo pasta
  • 1 14.5 oz. can butter beans (undrained)
  • 1/2 cup pitted black olives, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 preserved lemon, pith removed, rinsed and finely diced
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • kosher salt and black pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat oil over medium heat in the bottom of the pressure cooker. Sprinkle lamb shanks with salt and pepper then brown in the oil, 3-4 each side. Set aside the shanks and drain the fat. Return 1 tablespoon of fat to the pot.
  2. Add the onions and peppers. Scrape to release and fond created by browning the shanks. Cook until they start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, tomato paste and oregano, stir into the other vegetables and cook until aromatic (about 1 minutes). Add the water and bring to a simmer.
  3. Add the shanks to the pot along with 4 cups of water. Slap on the cover, lock it in place and heat to a steady release of steam is achieved. Cook for 35-40 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed to have a low and steady steam release.
  4. Turn off the heat, remove the pressure cooker from the burner and perform a quick release on the steam. Remove the cover and check the meat. It should be falling off the bones. If not give a little pull with tongs; if it comes off easily then your good to go. If not recover, return to pressure and cook another 5-10 minutes.
  5. When you meat is done remove to it a dish, add the remaining water plus a tablespoon of salt and bring it to a boil. When the broth is boiling add the orzo and cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Add the butter bean and liquid, chopped olives and preserved lemon, stir to incorporate. Cook for another 5 minutes.
  7. While the dish finishes cooking pull the meat from the lamb bones and shredded into bite size pieces. You can return these to the pot at any point.
  8. Add the lemon juice, stir to incorporate and taste for salt/pepper. Adjust as needed and serve.

Notes:
If you don’t finish this in the first serving the orzo will likely take over. Don’t worry about it. You can add a bit of water when reheating to thin out the leftovers.

Don’t have preserved lemon, don’t worry about it. You could zest your lemon and add that at the end along with the juice to add a bit more lemony flavor. Or leave it out.

Chicken with Turnip and Apple

I found the basis for this recipe while poking around the Interwebs looking for something to do with chicken thighs and turnips. The original recipe, from Bon Appétit online, introduced the dish with the following, “Finishing chicken thighs in a quick pear and turnip compote creates a rich, sweet and savory sauce.” I’m not sure I’d call this quick however the results of my modified dish were tasty to me.

The skin on the chicken thighs I had was anemic at best so I pulled it off. Apple replaces pear and vermouth subs in for white white because that’s what I had on hand. Enjoy!

Chicken with Turnip and Apple
Servings: 3-4
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
  • 4 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed and excess fat trimmed
  • 1 onion, 1/4″ dice (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 Gala apples, peeled, cored, 1/4″ dice (about 1 cup)
  • 2 small turnips, peeled, 1/4″ dice (about 2 cups)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 cup dry vermouth or white wine

Directions:

  1. Pat chicken dry and season with kosher salt and black pepper.
  2. Heat half the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken, skin side down, until skin is well browned, 4-5 minutes. Flip the chicken over and continue to cook until the second side is also nicely browned. You may want to lower the heat to medium after flipping to reduce the risk of burning the fond. When the chicken is well browned on both sides transfer it to a plate.
  3. Evaluate the fat left in the pan; if you have less than a tablespoon then make up the difference with more vegetable oil. Return the pan to medium heat. Add onion, pear, turnip, and a generous pinch of kosher salt. Toss to coat in the oil, distribute in the pan and ignore for 5 minutes. Toss and distribute again and ignore for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and thyme. Stir to combine and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the vermouth. Stir into the other ingredients and return the pan to medium heat. Nestle the chicken into the apple/turnip/onions; add any juices the leaked onto the plate.
  6. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Check the check temperature; if it is 165° or above then remove the cover and allow the liquid to evaporate; about 5 minutes. Otherwise recover and cook for an additional 5 minutes for every 10° short of 165.
  7. Taste the apple/turnip/onions and adjust seasoning as desired. Serve with braised greens or a green salad.

Notes:
You can toss the apple and turnip with 1/2 teaspoon of cider vinegar to help prevent browning while you prep your other ingredients. Really any vinegar or even lemon juice will work here.

Milk-Can Supper

I heard about Milk Can Supper on the America’s Test Kitchen Radio podcast in June 2014. It is a one pot meal, which I dig for efficiency sake, and it sounded intriguing. Basically you layer red potatoes, cabbage, corn on the cob, carrots, onion and bratwurst in a large pot and use a pale colored beer as the steaming liquid. I gave it a go and the results were delicious. I’ve made it, or parts of it, several times since with a couple of variations.

I use our 20-quart stock pot when I make this for a crowd. If I’ve halving it then I leave out the cabbage and cook it in the dutch oven we use for stews and tomato sauce.

Give this a try sometime. You won’t be sorry.

Milk-Can Supper
Servings: 10-12
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 3 lbs. fresh bratwurst (15 sausages)
  • 3 lbs. small red potatoes, unpeeled, rinsed
  • 1 head Napa cabbage, cut into quarters
  • 6 ears corn, cleaned and cut in half
  • 6 carrots, peeled and cut into ~2″ pieces
  • 2 onions, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 12 oz. bottle light ale
  • 2 green bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1″ squares

Directions:

  1. Cut brats in half. Heat the oil in the stock pot over medium heat. Working in batches, brown brats, about 2 minutes on each side. Set browned brats aside. Drain the oil from the pot.
  2. Dump the potatoes into the pot. Cover these with the quartered cabbage followed by the corn, carrots and onions. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Tuck the bay leaves and thyme springs in among the vegetables.
  3. Arrange the brats on top of the vegetables. Pour the beer over everything, pop on the cover and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer; you want to see a bit of steam come out when you take off the lid. Cook for 15 minutes. Add the bell peppers and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes. You can temp the sausages if you are worries they aren’t cooked through (160°F being the magic number). I try to stab a potato and a carrot to make sure they aren’t still hard.
  5. If you have a big enough bowl or platter you can carefully dump everything into it. For a large group I prefer to separate out the sausages, corn and cabbages (which I cut into smaller pieces after cooking) into separate bowls. The potatoes, carrots, onions and peppers end up together in another bowl. This allows the food to be passed around the table more quickly. I try to put at least some of the cooking liquid into a measuring cup to pass as well.

Notes:
The original recipe calls for a “light-bodied American lager, such as Budweiser”. I’m a bit of a beer snob and don’t have Bud in the house nor will I buy it just for the recipe. I’ve used Smuttynose Shoals Pale Ale in the past and most recently I used Sam Adams Porch Rocker. Both worked well. Use what you enjoy.

As I suggested in the intro, this recipe can pretty easily be halved if you aren’t serving a mob. I leave out the cabbage, reduce the rest of the ingredients by half except the amount of beer. How many sausages you cook is really up to you. I’d go for at least 10 (that’s 2 packs were I shop). I honestly should just increase the number of sausages to 20 for the full recipe; they are the best part.

Pork with Beet Greens and Rice

Other than an onion and the olive oil everything in this recipe came from the Mass Local Food co-op or our garden. I’m kind of proud of that for some reason. It helped use up some leftover rice as well, which was a bonus.

Pork with Beet Greens and Rice
Servings: 4-6
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Hungarian wax pepper, seeded & finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 2 cups tomatoes, halved or diced (we used a mix of cherry & heirloom)
  • beet greens from six beets, washed and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp.
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh herbs (thyme, parsley & savory)
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • kosher salt & cracked black pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and pepper, stir to coat. Cook for 3-4 minutes and add the garlic. Stir in and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute.
  2. Push the onion/pepper/garlic to the outside of the pan and add the ground pork. Break up the pork, season with salt & pepper and cook until no longer pink. Remove any excess oil and then combine with the onion/pepper/garlic.
  3. Add the tomatoes & chopped herbs (but not the basil), stir and cover. Cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the cover, stir and add the beet greens. Cover again and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Uncover, stir and add the rice. Cook until heated through, maybe 3 or 4 minutes longer. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
  6. Add the basil, give it a final stir or two and taste for seasoning. Adjust salt & pepper if necessary and serve.

Notes:
This year we grew 3 types of tomatoes – red grape, orange cherry and green zebra heirlooms. The smaller grape & cherry tomatoes are cut in the half while the green zebras as cored and diced. Their all really tasty no matter how you cut them (or dont’).