Sunday, September 27, 2009

Slow Supper Sundays - Chicken Chili with White Beans, Jalapeno, and Rosemary

Have I ever told you how I feel about leftovers?

Hmm... How do I say this and maintain ladylike behavior. Oh forget it - I hate them. Despise them. Loathe them.

Microwaving their flacid remains the next day, their texture always disappoints. I don't even recognize some of my favorite recipes when I try to 'repeat' them. I just get angry, then sad, then embarrassed for my little plate of food, having lost its moment of glory.

There are a few exceptions, however. My pork enchiladas, in the previous post, that can be reheated in the oven or even microwaved (you'll lose the texture - but they're so damn good who cares), soup, and chili.

This chicken chili is my latest love. I am having an affair with it. It is so good, it's embarrassing. It makes me blush.

And as with most affairs, mine is accompanied by shame. Here's my confession - are you ready? I've never cooked with dried beans before. I found the whole idea of soaking them daunting and exhausting. I was lazy. I reached for the ease and familiarity of the can.

But I have to say - if you have the time - don't be the cowardice I was. Soaking is easy and they're nothing to be afraid of. If you're unsure of their doneness you can always test them for doneness just like pasta, then cook them longer if needed.

Alright - enough about beans. Actually one more note - this may sound odd, but you'll notice that in the recipe, I recommend having another 4 cups (1 box) of low sodium chicken stock on hand. This is for two reasons.

1) Depending on the brand of beans you buy/temperature of your burner/grace of God - your beans might absorb more stock than you would suspect while they cook and soften, drying up your stew like a sponge.
2) Everyone likes their chili a little different - some thicker, some thinner. So it never hurts to have more stock within reaching distance.

What surprises me about this recipe is how well rosemary works with oregano and cilantro. As I've advised, if you can get a hold of a store bought Rosemary chicken - do so and even though you remove the skin, let some of the prickly rosemary leaves stay with the meat. If you can only find a plain rotisserie chicken - don't panic - just up the ratio of addition fresh chopped rosemary to 1/2 teaspoon. The beauty of this recipe is that like all chilis, it gets better with time. You could make it earlier in the day and let it simmer away on low until you're ready to eat (adding stock as necessary if it dries out too much) or even make it a day ahead, refrigerate it and reheat. I'll shut up now. My lover's calling me.

Chicken Chili with White Beans, Jalapeno, and Rosemary
Serves 6.

1 pound dried navy beans, rinsed thoroughly under cold water
5 cups low sodium chicken stock, with an addition 4 cups (box) at the ready
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 heaping cups chopped red or sweet (Vidalia) onion
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus additional for seasoning
fresh cracked black pepper, plus additional for seasoning
2 jalapenos, seeded, ribs removed, and finely chopped (if you like it hotter, keep the seeds and feel free to add more)
3 fat (5-6 small) garlic cloves, minced - about 1 1/2 tablespoons
1/2 store bough Rosemary Rotisserie chicken, skin removed and cut into bite-sized chunks
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3/4 tablespoon dried oregano
1 small cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 cup chopped cilantro leaves

Sour cream, for serving

Place the well rinsed beans in a large dutch oven (I use my 5 qt Le Creuset - a worthy investment in my opinion) and cover with water, filling to the top. Place the cover over and set aside in a cool place in the kitchen for 4 hours.

At this point drain them and rinse again well in a colander (even rinse out the pot you soaked them.) Return the beans to the pot along with the 5 cups of chicken stock. Bring to a boil over high heat while you begin the rest.

Heat a separate, large rimmed nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add butter and olive oil, letting heat through for 30 seconds, then the chopped onions. Season with salt and a good grating of fresh black pepper (or 1/4 teaspoon dried if that's what you have) and saute, stirring occasionally for 8-10 minutes until they begin to turn light pink and translucent.

Add the jalapenos and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring every so often. Clear a space out in the pan for the cumin, and add it, letting it 'toast' for a couple of minutes before stirring into the rest. Add the garlic, cinnamon stick and an additional small pinch salt, and cook for another 5 minutes, just until the garlic softens and mellows (don't let the heat get too hot or it will burn - you just want a kiss of heat to mellow it out versus frying the crap out of it.)

At this point, the onions should be really well cooked and have lost a lot of volume in the pan with a couple of bits beginning to caramelize. If not, cook another few minutes until this occurs.

Add the onion mixture to the boiling beans and stock, along with the dried oregano and fresh rosemary. Stir in to incorporate and let boil another 10 minutes (if your stock has dried up - add more starting with a cup or two as you need to maintain a 'sea' for your ingredients to get to know each other in.) Remove and discard the cinnamon stick, then add the chicken and cilantro and lower the heat to a simmer for 30 minutes. Check the beans for their tenderness and the chili for salt. If the beans are still too al dente - continue cooking for another half hour or until they're at the consistency you like. Adjust salt seasoning, if necessary and serve with a dollop of sour cream on top.


Deborah said...

I agree - chili leftovers are wonderful. This recipe sounds delicious!

Miss Meat and Potatoes said...

Thanks so much Deborah! I'm noticing a lot of chilis and stroganoffs going around on the food blogs. Funny how we're all creatures of habit, driven by the weather;)