Monday, March 16, 2009

Chile con Pollo

In my quest to use my slow cooker more often, I came across several recipes for chile con carne (standard issue chili). They all had their own mix of spices, ratios of meat to beans, types of beans, random ingredients - and I came to the notion that I should just make something of my own. While in the grocery, I picked up a couple new spices and decided to experiment. I also switched to chicken, but that's just a preference. You could just as easily make this with beef (like a chuck roast).

1 lb. dry kidney beans, soaked in water overnight
1 lb. chicken breasts, cubed bite-size
2 medium sweet onions, chopped
Pinch of salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeƱos, seeded, ribbed, and chopped
3 strips bacon, chopped
1 14-oz. can whole tomatoes
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon chipotle chili pepper powder
1 tablespoon red chili pepper powder
2 teaspoons cumin
3 cups + 2 tablespoons water, divided
Juice of 1 lime
Toppings (cilantro, red onion, shredded cheese, sour cream, etc.)

Soak the kidney beans in water overnight. The next morning, drain them and place into a slow cooker. Add the cubed chicken. Chop the onions and sweat over medium heat, and sprinkle with salt. After about 10 minutes, add the garlic and jalapeƱos and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Pour into the slow cooker, then add the bacon and tomatoes. Combine the spices and add 2 tablespoons of water, then mix together to form a paste. Scrape into the slow cooker, then add the remaining 3 cups of water and lime. Give the mixture a few good stirs to bring everything together, then cook over low heat for 8 hours.

You'll come home to the smell of a delicious meal sitting there waiting for you. At this point, you can add more water if it's too thick for your liking, or you can make a paste from cornstarch to thicken it. For me, the dish was just right, and I topped it with just a bit of cilantro. This is a fairly mild chili, so if you'd prefer spicy, add another tablespoon or so of red chile pepper powder.

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