Monday, November 15, 2010

The dawn of a new day: Chicken Cashew Chili

This post is a big deal, but you don't know that yet. You clicked over to read not yet grasping the life-changing moment that was about to happen. The earth didn't shatter as a warning; the bowls in your cabinets stood still. And yet. Those bowls will never be the same, because this chili recipe is the dawn of a new day. The era of ground beef and green peppers is over. Triumphantly taking their place are the four Cs: chicken, cashews, chili, and chocolate. You heard me. Let's get started, shall we?


There are 4 Cs in this chili, and all of them matter.

The chile puree is the foundation for the entire dish. I can't stress that enough. Cook this chili with a whole chicken, and be conscious of what kind of chicken you buy (I buy free-range, hormone-free birds because I can taste the difference and it's important to me to support those business models). Maybe later you can shortcut this dish with a rotisserie chicken you shred yourself, but for the first time, just trust me and plan ahead, k? The cashews provide fantastic texture - both in the puree as a thickening agent and whole in the chili for a delicious, wholesome crunch. Finally: chocolate. Bittersweet chocolate, to be exact. Ruth Reichl calls this touch a "weeknight take on mole," and as usual, she's correct. I added my chocolate last, after tasting, and I honestly felt like it wasn't even necessary - the chili was already complex and rich and delicious. Stirring in the bittersweet chocolate, though, watching it melt and combine with the rich smoky chile flavor... it is a transformative, genius ingredient. There's no way around it.

Make this chili. Turn heads at the neighborhood potluck, freak out your guests during The Big Game, or make it like I did, quietly on a Friday night with a drink in hand, happily preparing a dish we'd enjoy all weekend long.

You can thank me later. And you will.

Chicken Cashew Chili
Serves 6-8 

Ingredients
4 dried ancho chiles
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon canned chipotle chiles in adobo
1 1/2 cups salted roasted cashews
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons salt
1 (31/2 to 4-lb) chicken - rinsed, patted dry, excess fat discarded, and cut into 8 serving pieces
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes in juice
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

 Make the chile puree
Heat a dry small heavy skillet (not nonstick) over moderate heat until hot. Toast the dried chiles, one at a time, pressing down with tongs, for several seconds on each side to make them more pliable. Seed and devein dried chiles; discard stems. Tear dried chiles into pieces and transfer to a blender. Add broth, chipotles, and 1/2 cup cashews and puree until smooth. (Note: if you want a spicier chili, retain some of the seeds.)

Make the chili
  • Heat oil in a 6- to 7- quart wide heavy pot over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. 
  • Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. 
  • Add cumin and salt and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. 
  • Add chicken and stir to coat with onion mixture. 
  • Stir in chile puree, 1/4 cup cilantro, and tomatoes with juice. 
  • Bring to a simmer and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking, until chicken is cooked through, about 45 minutes. 
  • Remove from heat and transfer chicken to a bowl.
  • Shred meat using two forks; discard bones and skin. (Note: I wasn't in a rush and waited for my chicken to cool and shredded using my hands; I find that much easier than using utensils.) 
  • Return chicken to pot and stir in chocolate, beans, remaining 1 cup cashews, and remaining 1/4 cup cilantro.
  • Cook over moderate heat, stirring, until chili is heated through and chocolate is melted.

6 comments:

  1. Wonder what I could substitute since I'm allergic to chicken? beef? sausage? Cause this looks delicious!!! Maybe make it veggie?

    HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM

    ReplyDelete
  2. I HATE traditional chili, I think mostly because I LOATHE cumin. Will I like this? TELL ME MARGARET!

    ReplyDelete
  3. This sounds DELISH! I plan to make it this week!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm already fainting. Swooning, actually.

    ReplyDelete
  5. oh. my. I'm for sure trying this!

    ReplyDelete

C'mon, make my day...

Related Posts with Thumbnails