Chicken Chili Verde: A Summer-Fall Liaison

Before I say anything about chicken or chili, I'd like to announce that this is my 50th post! It's hard for me to grasp that I have actually opened up this page 50 times to ramble on about food. After all, I've only ever stuck to journals and diaries for a grand total of maybe 3 entries throughout my childhood, and even those were spread out over months at a time, a true testament to either my flightiness or, perhaps, lack of interest in the subject matter. I briefly considered choosing some monumental recipe for this ever-so-monumental occasion, but I decided that this recipe would be more appropriate: a recipe that I made months ago, but have only just now gotten around to posting about it - not unlike my previous forays into the journaling world, with my delayed method of sharing information.

In a way, though, I am glad that I saved this recipe for chicken chili until now. Up until I made this in the dead heat of July, I thought of chili as a stick-to-your-ribs meal for snowy and blistery days. That hunch was not completely wrong, as the heat from the stove top evaporated into the un-airconditioned atmosphere and drove me out of the kitchen faster than you can say sweat. So, perhaps chili is not the dish you make on the hottest day of the summer, as I so wisely chose to do, but on a reasonably hot day, it would taste wonderful. There are cultures that choose spicy, hot foods for days such as that one in July, believing that the heat helps to cleanse the body. This chili is a light dish that would be perfect to eat in that weather.

Then there is, of course, the traditional view of chili, made in a crock pot all day long in winter and warming your entire body as you scoop it up. It comforts you and relaxes you. I can picture myself eating this same chili in several months, when the first snow hits the ground and the drafty windows in my old apartment fail to keep me warm.

So, this chili is, in a way, a bridge between the heat and cold, just as fall is. As I sit here, experiencing a meteorological civil war being waged in my neighborhood, I find it fitting to tell you about the recipe that works just as well in either weather extreme. The temperatures oscillate between suffocating humidity and crisp, chilled air that perfectly embodies autumn, and so a recipe that can adapt well to its environment is important. You have to be ready for anything.

This chili is easy to make and tasty, and it passes my low-sodium criteria (which is not something I can say of most chilis and soups). I was able to make it in an unfamiliar kitchen with sparse tools during a vacation, and while I didn't but should have written down the details of my experience, it all turned out well in the end. I served it with some bread that should have been crustier, and L and I were both very satisfied. Plus, this is called by its creator a "quick and easy freezer meal," and who doesn't love those?

Chicken Chili Verde, courtesy of The Domestic Contessa
Yield: If memory serves correctly, I cut this in half and got 2 very hearty servings; I would imagine the full recipe makes enough for about 6 people.
The Ingredients
15 oz. pinto beans, drained and rinsed if canned

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken, cooked
4 oz. chopped green chilis
1 tsp. chopped dried onion
3/4 tsp. oregano
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
3 c. water
3 boullion cubes
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. salt (pretty sure I omitted this - you won't miss it, I promise)
1 C grated Jack cheese (we used some spicy pre-shredded kind)

The Method
1. Combine the chicken and the chilis, onion, oregano, and cayenne and refrigerate until needed. I did this the night before to really let it marinate.
2. Combine the beans, water, bouillon, garlic, and salt (if using) in a large pot and bring to a boil.
3. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the beans are soft, about 1 hour. Pay attention to the water level here - I remember returning to the kitchen to find a pot devoid of all liquid, having all evaporated again. Having slightly burned the bottom layer of beans, I added more water, and continued on - but avoid my mistake, and check on it fairly often. Every 10 minutes would not be too cautious.
4. Add the chicken to the beans and simmer for another 10 minutes.
5. If not using immediately, allow to cool to room temperature and then freeze.
6. When ready to serve (thaw it and heat it again if you've frozen it), and top with the cheese!

This is the first chili I've ever made, and so easy to put together that I will definitely be making it again. It's cleansing in the heat and, I would imagine, comforting in the cold. Enjoy it with a nice loaf of bread near by to sop up the extras, and keep water or milk at hand in case it's a little spicy for you. The little kick that a spicier cheese can enhance is refreshing, and gives it a flavor that puts the salt shaker to shame.

So, there you have it: chicken chili verde, the link between two opposing seasons, and my 50th post to prove that this is one journal(/blog/thing) that I'm not about to give up.

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