As a kid, when I heard the word “chili” it brought up images of brown chunky mush that looked (and smelled) like something you would feed a furry four legged companion. Between the gas inducing kidney bean “chili” that came out of the kitchen at home and the cans of Hormel that friends would warm up during sleepovers, I vowed never to take another bite of the foul stuff again.
Somewhere between midterms and shots of cheap tequila in college I discovered that “chili” didn’t mean “beans” in Spanish, and that when done right, it could be awesome. Like this Chile Verde, which is to this day one of my all time favorite dishes.
As I was gazing into the cupboard looking for dinner a few years back, all I saw staring back at me was a can of chipotle chilis, a can of cannellini beans, and a few dust bunnies in the dark reaches of my pantry. While I’d outgrown my chili aversion of yore, the thought of making chili with beans still made me cringe.
Limited by what my pantry had to offer, and too lazy to take the subway up to Union Square (yes, this was before we had a Whole Foods in Tribeca) I decided to make do with what I had, and the resulting chicken chili became the fourth post on this blog. It was simple, wholesome, and surprisingly good. The recipe has gone through a couple iterations, but it’s still one that I come back to when my pantry thins out like a head of aging hair.
This chicken chili is lighter than one made with beef, and yet the spicy, smokey chipotles pack a wallop of flavor. Best of all, it warms you up and fills your belly on a cold winter day; the kind of grey miserable day when you look out the window and wonder if the heavens have caught a cold.
Serve this with some pickled jalapeños, and if you have leftovers, toss them with some pasta and cheese for something different the next day.