Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My congested head and worn-out body feels like I took a good beating in a wrestling match.

I’ve been in Istanbul for only a few days, and my nasty sinus cold is still lingering. Yesterday, I hardly moved off the couch – only when I needed to refresh my echinacea tea or for necessities.

However, I needed to make dinner. Dried kidney beans were soaking in the fridge. I planned to cook a large batch of spicy chili to aid in flushing out the cold virus in my body.

During the winter, I often make chili using whatever canned beans I have in the pantry – black, chili, cannellini or red kidney beans. Cooking time usually takes about 30 minutes, and I’m ready to ladle the chili into bowls.

Although I finally found canned beans here, they cost nearly five times as much as what I would pay for dried beans. Ha! I’m used to paying less than a dollar for a can of beans, especially during the winter. I’ve only cooked dried black beans a few times, but I figured using other beans would not differ that much.

I thought the speckled beans looked pretty all together in a bowl before I soaked them.
However, I didn’t factor in that dried beans must be cooked thoroughly about two hours before being added to the chili. Oops! 

Well, I got the chicken-tomato mixture simmering in one pot while the beans finished cooking in a second pot. Then, I combined the two and let the flavors mingle in the stockpot for awhile.

Usually, I just add a bunch of spices to my chili and adjust the flavors as I go along. This time, I actually measured all the ingredients (for the most part) so I could write down the recipe for you.

My chicken chili packs just enough heat to let you know it’s there. I like spicy food but not the kind that makes you cry. I just hope the chili will help clear my sinuses.

Afiyet Olsun!

Joy’s Spicy Chicken Chili

2          c.         355 g.  dried light speckled kidney beans or your choice of beans, soaked in cold water overnight
2          T.                     vegetable oil
1          ea.                    large onion, chopped small
5-6       ea.                    garlic cloves, chopped small
1          1b.       500 g.  boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 ½      T.                     chili powder
2          tsp.                  salt
2          tsp.                  dried oregano
1          tsp.                  ground cumin
1          tsp.                  ancho chili powder
1          T.                     chipotle powder
½         tsp.                  ground cinnamon
½         tsp.                  cayenne pepper
TT                                freshly ground black pepper                          
3          T.                     hot Turkish red pepper paste (optional)
28        oz.       850 g.  canned, diced tomatoes
8          oz.       240 ml. water

1. Take the soaked beans from the fridge. Drain. Rinse again with fresh water. Drain.
2. Place the beans in a large pot and cover with cold water by 2 to 3 inches. Add a teaspoon of salt to the water.
3. Bring the beans to a simmer, covering with a lid. The beans will need to cook 1 ½ to 2 hours. As the cooking time nears, test a few and taste if they are soft.
4. While the beans are cooking, heat the vegetable oil in another 6-8 quart stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and chicken, cooking until the chicken is nearly cooked through, about 10 minutes.
5. Then, add all the spices and cook for a few minutes.
6. Next, add the red pepper paste, tomatoes and water. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Then turn the heat down to low and let cook for about 1 hour, stirring often.
7. When the beans are ready, strain off the water. Add the beans to the second pot. Let the chili cook for about 20 minutes to allow the flavors to mingle together.
8. To serve, ladle the chili into bowls. Serve with chopped cilantro or parsley and shredded cheese.

For other chili recipes or for more inspiration, check out famouschilirecipes.com.

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