It's actually fallish here in Central Florida. And while I know that there are many who don't really consider lower 80's to be fall weather, after five and a half years as a Floridian I've learned to take what I can get.
Fall to me means many things and most of them seem to revolve around fall foods…comfort foods like soups, roasts, muffins and chili. Chili isn't something I grew up eating. In fact, I honestly can't remember my mom ever making it. We did eat black-eyed peas and cornbread, Okie beans and lots of stews…but no chili. I don't think I even made chili until we moved to Florida, but in the past five years I've become a huge chili fan.
This chili is my favorite so far.
I was inspired by a recipe on Mad Hungry with Lucinda Scala Quinn on the Hallmark channel. I've always put together my own spices, but have never used canned chipotles in adobo and I don't think I'll ever make chili without them out again. I absolutely loved the sweet, smoky flavor they added. I switched out ground chicken for the chicken thighs (the only package at my local Publix was a little…um…sketchy looking). A few more changes – adding some carrots and zucchini, substituting a little cumin for some of the chili powder – brought the flavor profile more in line with what my family loves. Not too spicy but complex in flavor, it is perfect with a piece of cornbread on the side or crumbled into it.
Here's my version….
Chipotle Chicken Chili
serves 4, with leftovers for chili nachos (oh, yeah!)
10 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 jalapeno chile, halved (I removed a few of the seeds)
1 white onion, peeled and halved
4 garlic cloves (more would be good)
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 pounds ground chicken (or chicken thighs or ground beef or whatever quick cooking meat you prefer)
2 carrots, grated
1 zucchini, grated
3 T. chili powder
1 T. cumin
2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, finely chopped
1.5 to 2 c. chicken stock
1 can kidney beans, drained
2 t. salt
a few spoonfulls of the adobo sauce to taste
shredded cheddar cheese, green onions and sour cream to serve
*I tested out this cornbread last night (with honey instead of sugar), and wasn't totally happy with it. Flavorwise, it was great but the texture was a little cakey for me. I don't usually have a huge preference when it comes to cornbread, but I'd have enjoyed this more with a dryer, less sweet recipe.
*The roasted tomatoes, garlic, jalapeno and onion was amazing. The smell alone was worth the process. I'm going to make just that again this weekend, just barely pulsed in the blender with a little cilantro and lime to make a roasted salsa. Can't wait!
*Tom and I both had the thought that coarsely chopped mushrooms would make a great addition. In fact, if it were just for me I'd probably leave the meat out, add lots of mushrooms and maybe an extra can of beans. Maybe next time =)
*I was lucky to end up with just enough leftovers to make chili nachos tonight. After my husband went back for thirds, I was getting a little nervous. Next time, I'll definitely take out what I want for nachos before letting everyone eat rather than hoping for leftovers. For nachos, I'm just going to layer gluten-free corn chips with salsa and grated cheddar and jack cheeses. A few minutes under the broiler, top with a little sour cream, cilantro and green onions and I've got an easy, new dinner out of leftovers.
I've decided this past week that my favorite thing about a new recipe is when I can one little part of it and really run with it. I still haven't gotten around to making the roasted tomatoes and stuff into a salsa, but I did make a pretty rocking pizza sauce with it. Just roasted tomatoes, half an onion, a few cloves of garlic pulsed together in the blender with salt, pepper, oregano and basil to taste. The next day, I threw in a little chicken stock and cream to make a delicious roasted tomato soup. I'll get that recipe up as soon as I can make it again. The first batch disappeared too quickly!
This recipe is linked to: