Chicken chili made in a slow cooker is a time saving, delicious dinner that’s perfect any night of the week. It’s also a great meal to make during the busy holiday season.
Hoooo-weee! Is Christmas really a week away? Time is fleeting away as my boys are on break a full week before Christmas, which means that several of my projects have to be done by tomorrow. But seeing as I have approximately 1000 things to do tomorrow, I guess I really have to get the bulk of it done by tonight.
Lucky for me, I am a night owl and two great things came in the mail today:
1. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse DVD
2. A wine & snacks gift basket.
Hooray for mail order & unexpected presents! That little guilty pleasure combination will help me check a few things off the “to-do list” tonight.
I love being able to spend 10 minutes tossing ingredients into a Crock-pot on my way out the door, and coming home to dinner. I sure hope everyone enjoyed the shredded chicken tacos recipe I shared earlier this week. We enjoyed them so much that there was nary a leftover to be had. But if you had leftover shredded chicken, chicken chili is an excellent way to re-purpose the meal. This recipe started out as a white chicken chili recipe, but white chili is so…boring. And white. I like a little more flavor and color in my food. Who’s with me?
My chicken chili is savory and colorful, but not so busy that my boys turn up their noses and refuse to eat it. And the smell! I just love coming home to that spicy aroma. Very comforting on a busy and blustery day.
Here’s what you’ll need to make the chicken chili:
2-2 ½ pounds cooked chicken
15 oz. can black beans
15 oz. can Great Northern Beans (or other white bean)
2 C. chicken broth
2 C. your favorite medium salsa
2 C. Monterrey Jack or cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tsp. ground cumin (more or less to taste)
½ tsp. ancho chili powder (more or less to taste)
The nice thing about this chili is that there are so many different flavors happening that you can use pretty much any leftover chicken as the base. Being that we ate all of the previous night’s shredded chicken, I had to be all archaic and cook up more.
The quickest way that I have found to cook chicken is to pound it flat between 2 pieces of plastic wrap, about 1/2 inch in thickness. Since this chicken is going into a soup, I don’t season it. I would definitely season it with at least salt and pepper if I were planning to serve it in another way.
Add oil to the pan over medium high heat and sear the breast on one side for 6-7 minutes, or until it’s a nice medium brown. Flip it over to sear the other side, and allow it to cook for 6-10 minutes until cooked through. Since this is going into soup, a little pink inside is all right because it will be simmering all day in the crock pot. Just be sure you don’t see any “fleshy” parts.
Fleshy-half-cooked-chicken = bad.
Once the chicken is completely cooked, slice it across the grain into thin strips, then slice with the grain into bite-sized pieces. You should end up with about 4 cups of cubed chicken pieces.
Rinse and drain the beans. I like to use black and white beans for their color and texture differences, which gives a nice dimension to the chili.
Place the chicken cubes into the crock of a slow cooker.
Dump the beans over top of the chicken.
And because black beans and corn luuuuuuv each other, I like to add a little corn to the mix. The yellow is so bright and cheerful!
Usually, I am a salsa fresco kind of girl, but for chicken chili, I like to use a jarred salsa. Fresh salsa tends to be a bit on the watery side, and makes for a runny chili.
Runny chili = soup. Thick chili = chili.
What I am trying to say is that salsa from a jar imparts a dense richness to chili while simultaneously acting as a thickener.
Boy, that sounded pretty dorky, huh? Yep, little bit.
Pour on the chicken broth. And yes, this is prepackaged broth/stock. Simplify, people! I like a super chunky chili. Feel free to add more broth to thin it out a bit.
Measure the seasonings with your favorite measuring device. I tend to measure teaspoons in the palm of my hand. Actually, I was to lazy too walk across the kitchen to fetch my measuring spoons.
Add a boat-load of cheese. Well, enough to fill a very, very small boat. A dingy load, perhaps? As always, please, please grate your own cheese. If you do, you will be rewarded because the cheese will completely melt into the chili and help thicken it. You won’t even know it’s there. You want that.
Give it all a good stir before placing the lid on it. Set the slow cooker to low heat, and walk away. Go ahead and go about your business. Tackle a few loads of laundry, magic erase the latest mural done by “Not Me,” mend the knee holes in 12 pairs of jeans, pick up 6752 Legos mini-figures…
Oops! Projecting. Sorry.
Come back about 6-8 hours later. By then, the cheese will have magically disappeared, and the aroma will beckon you. Aromas do that–they beckon.
Ladle the chili into bowls, and top with your favorite fixin’s. I’m a purist and just add more cheese. Hubby is a big fan of cheese, sour cream, and crushed tortilla chips. The boys like to treat their chili like a dip for their corn muffins, or scoop it up with those cute little bowl shaped tortilla chips. It’s a little known fact that boys will use any excuse to eat with their fingers. That and they’ll try to work bodily function descriptors into polite conversation. Sometimes it’s even appropriate. But not usually.
I hope you enjoy the chicken chili and your dining companions as much as I enjoy mine.