Winter is here. There is snow on the ground and ice on the streets. It’s the time of the year when those of us who live in the Midwest turn our thoughts to curling up on the couch with a good book and a loving partner. Weekends at home give us time to fall in love with our new surroundings. The small apartment that seemed almost claustrophobic is becoming a cozy nest as we add a picture here and a shelf there. Slowly the treasures we kept are finding new places and as I look around from my place on that couch it looks like home.
Nothing makes a cozy nest smell better than a big pot of something wonderful simmering on the stove. If you’ve been following along with my adventures, you know that soups (click here for some of my favorites), stews, and chili come out of my kitchen regularly. On a recent cold and snowy weekend I made some chili that was the perfect accompaniment to quality time spent inside.
I started with some dried chilies, Ancho and Guajillo to be exact. Anchos begin their life as Poblano chilies. These are quite mild and became the repeating theme in this dish. Guajillo start out as Mirasol peppers. These are smokey and sweet with just a touch of heat. This wrinkled and leathery duo were the base for my chili. Before they could become the deep red sauce that held the other ingredients together they had to toast and soak, then whirl in the blender to finally be strained through a sieve. The beautiful sauce only needed a touch of agave and a pinch of salt to become the perfect base.Poblano peppers made several more appearances. Fresh peppers were roasted and left raw as well for a wider flavor profile. I also used Ancho Chili Powder along with the essential heavy dose of Cumin.
I used “chicken bits” for the main protein. This is what I call the trimmings from chicken thighs and breasts that I accumulate in the freezer and save for just his kind of occasion.I used a bit of bacon as I do in most chili that I make. Chopped finely and cooked off in the pot, it got things rolling. I drained the grease, but left the brown bits. I added a little olive oil and added the chicken to brown slightly.There had to be plenty of yellow onion and garlic along with the poblanos and jalapenos. Ground cumin and ancho chili powder cooked along with the veggies to deepen their flavor. The browned chicken and reserved bacon went back into the pot. I added a little chicken stock and more than a little hoppy beer to kick things up just a little. I added a can of fire roasted tomatoes that I had partially drained as well.
Everything simmered for a good 45 minutes, then I added a can of pinto beans that were drained and rinsed. Another 15 – 20 minutes and it was ready to eat…but not really. The flavor was good, but as with many soups it’s even better in a day or two. So it camped out in the refrigerator for two days. There’s a double bonus here. It tasted great and was as easy to get on the table as heating it up and spooning it into bowls. I topped it with a little smoked gouda cheese. The smokiness of the cheese complimented the smokey undertones of the chili. It takes a bit of time to make this. The recipe is long, but it is fairly easy. It’s the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon and the resulting pot of wonderful is worth the effort.
Winter is sure to hang around for at least another month or two. Take the time to make your own pot of wonderful.