I started with a man who would turn up his nose at a dish that included beans. Wouldn’t touch ’em, didn’t want anything to do with them.
I, never deterred by the man’s supposed “dislikes,” put beans in front of him anyway. Soon he evolved to eating around the beans. He would still push them to the side of the plate or bowl, but if one or two made it past the gate it wasn’t gag-inducing Armageddon. Still not his favorite, however.
Further down the road, with continued bean-presenting repetition, the man grew tired of trying to push them around and decided, hey, beans aren’t so bad. If they’re surrounded by enough meat, you can’t even tell they are there! The man ate, and enjoyed mind you, a dish containing beans. Then another. Then another.
Progress, people. This is what we call progress.
The next step is to completely remove the meat and get away with presenting beans as the protein source for a meal. We’re not there yet. Soon. These endeavors take much scientific trial and error before the experiment can be deemed a success. That day, my friends, is coming. I WILL make it happen. We will eat a meatless meal with beans in this house someday soon! And, gosh darn it, he’ll like it! As God is my witness!! Cue dramatic Gone with the Wind theme music…NOW.
Here’s a recent bean filled dish my husband enjoyed. As did I, naturally. This smokey, spicy chicken chili really hit the spot on a cold December night. It’s quick, easy, flavorful and, best of all, made with ingredients you likely already have on hand. Like a traditional beef chili, it has a tomato sauce base, which I tend to prefer. I find myself put off by recipes labeled “white chicken chili” because the clear/gray broth that comes with it makes me (the Hater of White Food) a little nervous. Why? Because I’m weird. This one is much more my speed.
I made a few changes to the original recipe, but nothing too drastic. First, I switched out chicken thighs for chicken breasts. The recipe calls for chopped fresh jalapenos, but I subbed in a couple chipotle peppers in adobo because that’s what I had on had. I added about a tablespoon of the sauce too for more smokey flavor. I also added a couple teaspoons of sugar, a trick I learned from my mom. I used brown sugar this time, but granulated works too. It just helps off-set some of the spiciness of the dish, I think, and gives it that extra something-something.
Filling and healthy to boot, you can easily bump up the nutritional value by adding a few more veggies. Colored bell peppers would be great, maybe some corn. Sometimes I like to run a large carrot over my microplane grater into dishes like this just to add a bit of sweetness against the bold flavors without adding actual chunks of carrot. Works great!
SPICY CHICKEN CHILI (Recipe Source: Food and Wine)
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound skinless chicken thighs or breasts (about 4), cut into thin strips
- 4 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
- 1 tablespoon adobo sauce from the can
- 1 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes with their juice
- 2 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
- 1 (15 oz) can drained and rinsed pinto beans
- 1 (15 oz) can drained and rinsed black beans
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
- Your favorite chili fixings, for serving
- In a large saucepan, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and garlic; cook until they start to soften, about 3 minutes.
- Increase the heat to moderate and stir in the chicken strips. Cook until they are no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and sugar. Add the peppers, the tomatoes with their juice, and the broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Uncover the saucepan and stir in the beans and black pepper. Simmer until the chili is thickened, about 15 minutes longer. Serve topped with your favorite chili fixings. (I like tortilla strips, cheddar cheese and chopped green onion) Serves 4.