This chili uses chicken thighs that are first seared and then braised in cream infused with roasted hatch peppers. It’s the perfect fall meal served with white rice, queso fresco, cilantro, and a fresh squeeze of lime. As with most stews, this chili actually tastes better the next day.
- 1 pound boneless skinless Smart Chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 cups masa harina (corn flour)
- Pinch salt and pepper
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 8 hatch chiles, roasted, peeled, and seeded*
- 1 cup celery, diced small
- 1 cup carrot, diced small
- 2 cups sweet onion, diced small
- ¼ cup garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon cumin, toasted and ground
- 1 teaspoon coriander, toasted and ground
- 1 teaspoon black pepper, toasted and ground
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups white beans, cooked and drained
- 4 cups low-sodium, organic chicken stock
- 1 quart heavy cream
- Zest of 2 limes
- 2 limes, for serving
- Queso fresco, for serving
- Cilantro, for serving
*To roast chile peppers: brush the whole pepper with oil and transfer to a foil-lined baking sheet. Position the baking sheet on the top rack in the oven and broil until most of the skin is charred. Remove from oven, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand until cool enough to handle. Then peel and remove the stems and seeds.
Heat a 4-quart pot over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, combine the corn flour with a little salt and pepper and dredge the chicken pieces in the mixture. Once the pot is hot, add the oil; it should ripple along the bottom of the pan. Next, add the coated chicken a few pieces at a time to pan fry. You’re looking for a slight browning all over the chicken. (This will impart a deeper flavor into the chili and the masa will act as a thickener.) Once all of your chicken is browned, remove from pot and set aside.
Next, add onion, carrot, and celery to the pan and sweat for about 5 minutes. Add a touch more oil if needed so the vegetables don’t burn. Once all vegetables are slightly softened, add garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Next, add roasted chiles, and the toasted and ground spices.
Deglaze with vegetable stock, whisking as you add the liquid a little bit at a time; you want to remove all of the flour from the bottom of the pan to make a smooth sauce. You will notice the stock has thickened from the masa. Next, add all remaining ingredients and the reserved chicken back to the pan. Bring the chili up to a very gentle simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour, making sure to stir occasionally.
Note: If you like your chili a touch thinner, simply add a bit of milk. Adjust seasoning with salt.
To serve, place the chili in four different bowls. Garnish with a few sprigs of cilantro, a spoonful of queso fresco and lime slices.
Food For Thought:
Toasting spices is a simple strep that can really enhance their flavors, and it’s easier than you might think. Start by buying whole spices whenever possible; ground spices are convenient, but they tend to lose their flavor much more quickly and are difficult to toast without burning. Spices ideal for toasting include: fennel seed, cumin, coriander, peppercorns, star anise, cinnamon, clove, mustard seeds, and more.