By Charmian Christie – The Messy Baker
January meals are problematic. It’s cold outside, making me crave comfort food. Yet holiday indulgences leave me looking for lighter fare. To complicate things, my family has widely different spice tolerances. Some like it hot. Some don’t.
This soup-like chili fulfils all requests. It’s light. It’s comforting. And it can be tweaked for almost any palate.
To ensure everyone enjoys our meal together, this dish arrives at the table partially assembled. The chicken, beans, and corn float in a flavourful base. Each person then spices it to their liking. Want it hot? Add a shake of Tabasco. Like it medium? Try a spoonful of your favourite salsa. Going easy? Some sour cream does the trick. I’ve even kept the cilantro on the side. If it’s not your thing, that’s okay. Pass me your share.
No matter what the thermometer, scales, or your spice tolerance says, this light, bright dish is sure to win praise. Just grab some bowls and let everyone make this soupy, bean-studded chili their own.
Different Strokes Chicken Chili
Cook time: 30 minutes
In this light version of chili, seared then shredded chicken breasts replace the traditional ground beef. The dish arrives at the table with a mix of black and romano beans weaving their way through the delicate strands of chicken.
4 cups homemade chicken stock
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more as needed
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 jalepeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 can (398 ml) black beans, drained and rinsed (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 can (398 ml) romano beans, drained and rinsed (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup corn, fresh or frozen
Juice of 2 limes
salt and pepper
In a large saucepan, heat the stock over medium until it just reaches the boil.
While the stock heats, place a Dutch oven over medium-high and heat the oil. Add the chicken and cook until golden on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to the hot stock and simmer without boiling while you prepare the rest of the chili. Be sure to leave the little brown bits (called “sucs”) in the Dutch oven for added flavour.
Add the onion to the Dutch oven and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Be sure to scrape up the sucs as the onions cook. Add the garlic, jalepeno, cumin, coriander, and oregano. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to low, cover, and leave until the chicken in the saucepan has cooked all the way through.
When the chicken is no longer pink inside, transfer it to a cutting board and shred it using two forks. Add the chicken and broth to the onion mixture. Stir in the black beans, romano beans, and corn. Increase heat to medium-high and cook until the corn is tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in lime juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Ladle into bowls. Pass the add-ons. Slurp.