Thursday, November 5, 2009

Barefoot Chicken Chili

In which the author displays her astounding lack of knowledge of a very popular food that every child raised on Brady Bunch and Partridge family re-runs really should know.

"Chicken Chili" made its way onto the Barefoot Bonus list this week, much to my delight. I have been wanting to taste chili for a very very long time, but somehow never did. For those of us born and living outside the US, chili is one of those dishes that you hear about and see in movies or on TV but never really stumble across. I know that Superbowl Sunday would not be complete without it (or is that the World Series?). I know that you can have it on a hot dog. I bet Harry made some for Sally. I'm sure all the Desperate Housewives have their own recipes. And surely Alice made a pot for the Bradys on their 3-ep Grand Canyon camping trip. But I have never tried it. I can't even remember seeing it on a restaurant menu in various trips to the US, although maybe I wasn't paying attention....

So yesterday, I began chopping onions and capsicums and garlic and tomatoes, for a slowish stove-top simmer before throwing in some oven-roasted chicken. The resulting stew was spicy, and packed with flavour. I really liked it, and would not hesitate to serve some up to friends for a casual meal. With some corn chips and sour cream on the side, it's perfect. Come to think of it, it is great "day after the night before" type food. However the kids were a little more luke-warm about it. Maybe it was too spicy for them, or maybe Hannah Montana doesn't eat chili, so they don't have the right TV references. As for my husband, who has slightly more chili experience than me, since he has eaten exactly one or two chili dogs, he wanted to know "Where's the meat? Where's the beans?". Blank looks from me, which prompted me into a quick bit of Wiki-research:

Did you know:
- Chili is the official dish of Texas (we don't have an official dish here, although someone is trying to sell Coat of Arms potato chips at the moment - flavoured with kangaroo and emu, would you believe?)
- Unnamed chili purists say "if you know beans about chili, you know chili ain't got beans" (guess who will be sharing that witticism tonight?)
- Secret chili ingredients can include peanut butter, bananas, pineapple, and cola. Not in this house.
adapted from "Barefoot Contessa Parties" by Ina Garten
4 cups chopped yellow onions (3 onions)
1/8 cup good olive oil, plus extra for chicken
2 cloves minced garlic
2 red capsicums, cored, seeded, and large-diced
2 yellow capsicums, cored, seeded, and large-diced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon dried chili flakes, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 800g cans whole peeled plum tomatoes in puree, undrained
1/4 cup minced fresh basil leaves
4 split chicken breasts, bone in, skin on (I used 4 marylands instead)
Chopped onions, corn chips, grated cheddar, sour cream

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 capsicum, chili powder, cumin, chili flakes, cayenne, and salt. Cook for 1 minute. Crush the tomatoes by hand or in batches in a food processor fitted with a steel blade (pulse 6 to 8 times). Add to the pot with the basil. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 350 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 35 to 40 minutes, until just cooked. Let cool slightly. Separate the meat from the bones and skin and cut it into 3/4-inch chunks. Add to the chili and simmer, uncovered, for another 20 minutes. Serve with the toppings, or refrigerate and reheat gently before serving.


RHL said...

As a Texan (or at least for the past 9 years), I can honestly say that there is as much discussion about what makes a good/right chili as there is about what the best bbq is....the best news...lots of chili and bbq to eat. The best? White Turkey Chili with smoked Hatch peppers....I'm drooling already.

Foodie with Little Thyme! said...

Looks wonderful! I love all the "did you know facts".

Kate said...

My sentiments, exactly. I bought everything to make this just didn't seem right. I read the recipe again...what, no beans? Okay, I guess I am not a chili purist...I want the beans...

Needless to say, I couldn't conjure up the enthusiasm to make it....