Chicken Chili Verde

Chicken Chili Verde  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Chicken Chili Verde | Image: Laura Messersmith

When it’s freezing out there’s nothing more comforting than a pot of something delicious simmering away and chili is one of those easy, satisfying meals that just gets better and better the longer the ingredients hang out together. I love my classic Spicy Red Chili with bell peppers and ground beef in a tomato base, but I wanted to mix it up a little and develop a recipe that delivers that same comforting meal, but with a different set of flavors.

This recipe takes the cool greens of poblano peppers, jalapeños and tomatillos as inspiration with chicken broth as the base to make a lighter, brighter chili. In case it isn’t obvious I’ve been on a bit of a citrus kick lately and my mind is constantly whirring with ways to incorporate all the wonderful varieties that are available now. It’s amazing what a difference a bit of acid in a dish makes – the edge of lime here cuts through heavier texture of the white beans and wakes up the spice of the jalapeno.

Chicken Chili Verde  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Chicken Chili Verde | Image: Laura Messersmith

Chicken Chili Verde with Lime (serves 4-6)

2-2 1/2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken breast
2 cups (1 large) chopped Vidalia onion
2 1/2 tablespoons (4-5 cloves) minced garlic
2 teaspoons (1 small) minced jalapeño pepper
3 cups (12 ounces) diced tomatillos
8 ounces (2 small cans) diced green chilies
3 (15 ounce) cans Great Northern or Cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups chicken broth
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper

For garnish: lime wedges, cilantro leaves, minced jalapeño

Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet and lightly coat with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle generously with kosher salt and ground black pepper. Roast at 350 degrees F. for 40-45 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. on an instant read thermometer. Remove the chicken from the oven and set aside to cool and rest. Reduce the oven to 200 degrees F.

While the chicken cooks, prep the vegetables.

Notes on Prep: for milder heat remove the ribs and seeds from the jalapeño. Tomatillos grow in a papery husk and have a slightly sticky coating. Remove the husk and rinse the fruit before de-stemming, similar to a tomato.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-low heat in a large dutch oven or heavy bottomed, oven-proof pot. Saute the chopped onion for 5-7 minutes until the pieces begin to turn translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally to keep the garlic from burning.

Next, add the minced jalapeño, the canned diced chilies and their liquid, as well as the diced tomatillos. Stir in the ground cumin and kosher salt. Continue to cook for 4-5 minutes to soften the tomatillos and form a thick sauce.

Stir in the drained, rinsed white beans, the chicken stock, and the bay leaf. Raise the temperature to medium and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover the pot and place in the oven. Cook for 1- 1/2 hours at 200 degrees F. to allow the flavors time to combine.

If the chili is too thin in consistency, puree 1-2 cups of the chili in a food processor or blender and then return the puree to the pot.

Finally, remove the skin from the chicken and pull the meat into bite sized shreds. Add the chicken to the pot and stir. Bring the chili back up to temperature and serve with cilantro leaves, minced jalapeño and lime wedges.

Chicken Chili Verde  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Chicken Chili Verde | Image: Laura Messersmith

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Yes, totally. I used a 5.5 qt French oven, a medium cutting board, chef’s knife, baking sheet, medium fine mesh sieve, wooden spatula, a liquid measuring cup, measuring cups and spoons. A food processor or blender will be helpful if you’d like a thicker chili.

The Verdict:
I initially worried as I developed this recipe that a chicken chili would be a pale imitation not worthy of the title. As it turns out I think we might even, just possibly prefer the bright, slightly sharp flavor of the tomatillos with the consoling warmth of the chicken and broth. I highly recommend serving it with a good squeeze of lime and a few leaves of fresh cilantro. Perfect for a cold winter’s day.

Chicken Chili Verde  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Chicken Chili Verde | Image: Laura Messersmith