Now I know that chili is something most people have strong feelings about. The bar downstairs even had a chili cookoff for the people who have strong feelings about their chili. I am not one of those people. It’s not something I make often, partly because it takes so long. But, when it’s chilly outside and I have nothing to do on the weekends, the fact that it takes so long can be a good thing.
One of my favorite things about cooking is that you have the ability to adjust as you go; I don’t usually use recipes, and I always use little bits of lots of things. Anytime I get delivery or takeout I keep the sauces that they give you–hot sauce, Chinese mustard, sweet and sour sauce, etc. Note that I’m not talking about the ketchup and Taco Bell sauce packets!! Just the stuff from Asian food–that hot chili sauce and mustard especially. Those were the only ones I used. They don’t cost anything and can be added to whatever you’re cooking for some quick flavor. I had Chinese mustard and Asian chili sauce leftover in the fridge and threw them both in. It doesn’t make a huge difference in the flavor but it’s a good way to use up stuff and it adds to the depth of flavor in the end.
Without any futher delay, here’s my recipe for 4 bean chicken chili.
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1 can each of black and kidney beans, plus two other kinds of beans of your choice (pinto and navy are good)
- 1 large can of whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 small can of diced green chilis
- 1 green bell pepper
- 2 stalks of celery
- 1 small white onion
- 2 whole garlic cloves
- Several tablespoons each of chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and paprika
I used frozen chicken; there’s no difference in the technique although it will obviously take longer if it’s frozen. Start by dicing the vegetables. Drain and reserve the liquid from the can of tomatoes. Combine the whole tomatoes, celery, green pepper, onion, garlic cloves, and chicken in the crockpot. Add salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon of chili powder and 1/2 tablespoon of the other spices. Add 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard and barbecue sauce, plus any leftover sauces you have from delivery/take out. Cook in the crockpot on low for 2-3 hours or until the chicken is almost cooked through.
Drain and rinse all the beans. Take the chicken out and shred, then stir back into the sauce. I like to add the beans after the chicken has cooked–if you add them at the beginning they turn to mush. Cook on low, another 2 hours. Find the garlic cloves and mash. Add additional spices to taste–especially garlic and chili powder.
It should be close to ready at this point. If you think your chili looks too dry, add a few splashes of chicken stock and/or the reserved tomato liquid. If it looks too wet, leave the lid off the crockpot for half an hour and it will thicken up. Continue to cook on low until you’re ready to eat and serve plain, with cornbread, mashed potatoes, or cheese.