Chicken Chili

by Anne Bennett on September 24, 2013

chicken chili

First night’s chili — unconventional but very good. Pretty too.

Last Sunday marked the first official day of fall 2013. And not a moment too soon for chili lovers. It’s pretty hard to crave a bowl of hot, spicy stew when it’s 90-plus degrees F outside.

But now? Bring on chili in its many incarnations, including this obviously nontraditional one from Ina Garten that’s got neither beef nor beans in it.

What, you ask? What’s left that’s chili-worthy? Anyone who has cooked an Ina recipe should know — plenty. This rendition is chock-full of fat chunks of roasted chicken breast, two colors of bell peppers, onions and tomatoes. That’s about it, but it’s more than enough. Ina hates cilantro so she seasons her chili with fresh basil.


Second night’s chili– closer to the real thing ! A hit !

Note: Ina is not one to cut corners. She uses whole canned tomatoes and chops them up in a food processor. I followed Ina’s directions, thinking that perhaps pureeing the tomatoes might make the sauce thicker overall, but feel free to use canned diced tomatoes instead.

She also roasts bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, allows them to cool and then cuts the meat into large chunks. I must admit, roasting them did the trick. The chicken was moist and juicy.

Daughter Lizzie and Brendan took some of this home for their dinner last night and she remarked this morning: “It’s not really…chili, is it?”  I replied that Ina called it chili and she said, “Well, Ina is wrong.”

Sacrilege! But Lizzie has a point. She says she would shred the chicken meat instead of cutting it into big chunks as Ina does, and use the recipe as a launching point for a more Southwestern soup-type dish. So the next night I doctored the leftovers, adding black beans and corn.  I also shredded the large chicken chunks, added cilantro (sorry, Ina) and plain Greek Yogurt. Ina’s creation had become…chili !

I think Ina’s emphasis is on food that is both delicious and pretty, hence the beautifully chunked chicken. And it is completely satisfying, and healthful, the way it is. Here’s an idea: this recipe makes a big pot. You can add extras to the leftovers and give it a different chili-spin altogether.

4 split chicken breasts (bone-in, skin-on)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 large onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 red bell peppers,seeded and large-diced
2 yellow bell peppers, seeded and large-diced
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 (28-oz.) cans whole tomatoes
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, minced
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place chicken breasts on a baking sheet and generously sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper. Roast breasts for about 40 minutes, or until just cooked. Allow to cool slightly.

While chicken is roasting, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large Dutch oven and add onion. Saute about 10 minutes, until onion is translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes and salt. Cook another 1 minute. Crush tomatoes either by hand or with a food processor and add along with the basil. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, uncovered, about 30 minutes.

Cut meat from chicken into large chunks and add to the chili. Continue to simmer, uncovered, for another 10 to 20 minutes.

Serve with your favorite condiments: plain Greek yogurt, avocado, chopped green onions, grated cheddar cheese, corn and even beans ! 

Serves: 6
WW PP Per serving: 6

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Laurie September 25, 2013 at 8:53 am

I watch Ina but I don’t always like what she chooses to make or how she does it. I think you’re right too, that it’s a LOT about pretty for her and I think she does things that show up well (all the main ingredients visible) on TV or in a still pic. I agree with Elizabeth though, I would alter some techniques and ingredients. Smaller pieces of everything would give it more “mouth feel” of chili instead of mere soup. I love the idea of roasted (or even smoked) chicken, again, to assist the chili-like taste. I would need the beans (maybe red or black WITH white) and I like the idea of a little corn (maybe roasted too) to keep it interesting. It’s a good base to be creative from AND it’s seasonal and mostly healthy. I could see me having problems with portion size of this, it’s supposed to be chili, afterall. I’ll try to find the other white chili recipe I told you about.

kathleen September 27, 2013 at 3:12 pm

I am seeing all of your recipes with “new eyes”
i am loving them and all the salads you have done over the years are “new eyes wonderful”!
And I agree with Liz, and mixed beans as Laurie above suggests

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