On Wednesday, I wrote about how to make your home canned beans from dried (have you entered the giveaway sponsored by Mighty Nest yet?). Since so many of you mentioned in the comments that you like to use canned beans in chili, I thought that I’d share the basic chili recipe I use all the time. It uses 2-3 jars of beans and at least 2 quarts of preserved tomatoes.
When I have the time, I braise boneless skinless chicken thighs in puree of tomatoes, onions, garlic cloves, and fresh cilantro leaves until they shred easily. If I’m running short on time, I skip the braised chicken and instead just stir a pound ground turkey meat directly into the cooking chili (in that case, I add both jars/cans of tomatoes directly to the cooking chili). Of course, another option is to skip the meat entirely, but it would make my husband sad if I did that in our household.
Let’s have a word about this shredded chicken. It’s an awesome addition to chili, but that’s not all it’s good for. I’ve been known to eat it wrapped in a tortilla or spooned over some braised greens. It’s incredibly flavorful and easy to make. I’ve taken to keeping a batch stashed in our freezer for lazy nights. Oh! One last thing about this chicken. Sometimes the onions make it a little bit sweet and so I’ll add either a splash of lime juice or the brine from a jar of pickled jalapeños to balance things out.
My apologies for the less than stellar photos in this post. I made this chili for dinner one night and forgot entirely to take pretty pictures. I snapped the image at the top of the post (it was the very last bowl) just moments before I ate it for a quick solo dinner. And we all know, the total lack of natural light in my kitchen makes photography hard, even on the most lovely natural light days.
But enough of that. On to the recipe!
- 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 quart or a 28 ounce can tomato puree
- 1 yellow onion, sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- 3/4 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves and stems
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 1 red or orange pepper, chopped
- 1 bundle Swiss chard, leaves separated from stems
- 1 quart or 28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
- 3 cans or jars of beans (I like to use a combination of black, pinto, and red kidney)
- salt, pepper, and chili powder to taste
- Cut chicken thighs into two or three pieces per thigh, removing any large pieces of fat while doing so.
- Place the trimmed thighs in a pot that holds four or five quarts.
- Combine the tomato puree, onion, garlic, cilantro leaves,chili powder, salt, and pepper in a blender and puree.
- Pour the puree over the chicken and place the pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a low boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for two to three hours, until the chicken shreds easily.
- When the chicken is nearly done, start building the rest of the chili.
- Heat the oil over high heat in a large Dutch oven or soup pot that will hold eight to nine quarts.
- Add the onion, garlic, chili powder, and cumin to the pot and stir to the combine. Cook for four to five minutes, until the onions begin to brown and the spices are fragrant.
- Add the chopped peppers and stir to incorporate.
- Take the Swiss chard stems and chop into 1/2 inch slices like you would celery. Add them to the pot. Chop the greens and set them aside.
- Add the tomatoes and their liquid to the pot, crushing them with your hands as you add each one.
- Open beans, drain them of their liquid and add them to the pot.
- Add the shredded chicken and its cooking liquid.
- Finally, stir in the reserved Swiss chard greens.
- Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer the chili for 30 to 45 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings (we like a mild chili in my house, so it might not be nearly spicy enough for lots of you).
- Serve with some grated cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream.