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Chicken Chili Challenge

Martha Stewart Living, October 2010

Until recently, I'd always been a chili purist, and so were the eaters whom I cook for at home. That means all beef (cubed, not ground) and no beans (or grudgingly added), with the chili flavor and heat coming from leathery pods of dried (rehydrated) pasilla or guajillo chiles. No vegetarian chili ever satisfied me, and I'd never met a poultry version that I fancied.

But I love a challenge, so I decided to attempt a chicken chili with the heart and soul of a good ol' "bowl of red." After sampling it, my beef-chili-only husband said, "This is my new favorite, and I'm craving more."

The plan: Bring in big flavors to offset the lack of beefy savoriness. I chose chicken thighs, which are richer than breasts. With a good browning to start, I built the fond (the French term for the browned bits on the bottom of the pan). Charring the vegetables adds to the depth, which is further enhanced by canned chipotle chiles. I went with a best-quality commercial chili powder for convenience, eliminating the need for more herbs and spices. With a few tweaks, this recipe became a staple. My next chili challenge? Vegetarian, of course. I'll keep you posted on that one.

Text by Lucinda Scala Quinn

Comments (3)

  • 11 Sep, 2011

    I have found that using fresh chipoltle chilis are milder in heat and full of flavor. You can add them with the rest of the veggies when you are sauteing them or you can char them like a roasted pepper to add a little more depth to the flavor. I am going to try this recipe as soon as it gets a little cooler here. Always looking for good chili recipes.

  • 7 Dec, 2010

    The chipotle chiles in adobo were very hot. I think this could also be the culprate of the hot flavor. I want to make this for Christmas eve just milder. Someone mentioned that they may carry the chipotle chiles in various heats like mild or medium. The only ones my local store carries did not have a heat index on the label. I don't want to loose this wonderful flavor if I leave out the chipotles. Alny suggestions?

  • 23 Sep, 2010

    On one of our rare cold days in California I decided to make this chicken chili as soon as I came across the recipe in the October Issue of Living. Unfortunately, the chili was extremely hot. It calls for 1/4 cup of chili powder, which caused the chili to be inedible. I would definitely recommend this chili recipe; however, I would suggest you add half the chili powder it asks for.