chicken chili with sour cream

When we talk about chili, most of think about beef and beans. So when I was challenged to participate in a chili contest I spent weeks trying out twists on the classic beef and beans version. I tried ground beef, diced sirloin, kidney beans, black beans, a variety of peppers. But something wasn’t sitting well with me. I knew everyone would be making a some kind of version of the classic beef chili and there is only so much I could do to it to make it stand out. And I wanted to win! So I decided I was going to take a chance and do something totally different.

I kept coming back to Ina Garten’s recipe for chicken chili. I wasn’t convinced it would be great. The main ingredients were bell peppers and chicken which are not at all what I think of when I think of chili. I had so many reservations and questions about the ingredients in this recipe, but I just kept coming back to it until I decided I had to try it. And when I finally did, I knew I had something special. This is one of those recipes that simply surprises you. How can chicken and peppers come together and taste like chili? I just don’t know, but they do! And it’s damn good!

I invited a few feasters over to taste test the chicken chili and discuss the pro and cons of going with a chicken chili vs a traditional beef chili in the contest. It was so helpful to get honest feedback so I could make a confident decision about which chili to submit. It was a unanamyous decision that I had to step out of the box if I wanted my chili to stand out and we all agreed this dish could be a real contender. So, that’s what I did. I spent the next few weeks deciding what tomatoes to use, what type of chili powder to use, what cheese worked best as a garnish. I worked hard to make it the best it could be.

Then the day came. My chili was up against 18 other chilis. Voters could only vote for their top choice. When the votes were tallied I did not come in first (hold- I need to wipe the tears) but I came in second and by 1 vote! That means a heck of a lot of people choose this chili as their top choice! That’s a win in my book and I have no regrets. This is a great recipe and it now on rotation at Casa De Collins and will be….at least until next year when I go for gold and take that first place prize!

The Recipe

Award Wining Chicken Chili
Prep Time
45 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 30 mins
 
Course: entree
Cuisine: American, International, Mexican, Tex-mex
Keyword: chicken, chili
Servings: 6 people
Author: Original version by Ina Garten
Ingredients
  • 4 cups chopped yellow onions 2 large onions
  • 1/8 cup good olive oil plus extra for chicken
  • 1/8 cup minced garlic
  • 2 red bell peppers cored, seeded, and large-diced
  • 2 yellow bell peppers cored, seeded, and large-diced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more for chicken
  • 2 28-ounce cans whole peeled plum tomatoes in puree, undrained
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh basil leaves
  • 4 split chicken breasts bone in, skin on
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Rub the chicken breasts with olive oil and place them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast the chicken for 35 to 40 minutes, until just cooked.
  2. While the chicken is cooking, cook the onions in the oil over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent.
  3. While onions are cooking, use a pairing knife to pierce and slightly break open the tomatoes to release their water and seeds. Crush the tomatoes by hand, or in batches in a food processor fitted with a steel blade (pulse 6 to 8 times), or simply chop well with a sharp knife. Set aside.
  4. To the onions, add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, cayenne, and salt. Cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add the basil, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. While chili is simmering, separate the chicken meat from the bones and skin and shred, or cut it into 3/4-inch chunks. (All a matter of preference.) Add the chicken to the chili and simmer, uncovered, for another 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
  7. Serve with the toppings, or refrigerate and reheat gently before serving.

Beef Bourguignon

Elevated comfort food for the soul

Almost every culture around the world has some version of braised beef, or more commonly known as beef stew. The Italians make theirs with potatoes, celery and tomato puree. The Mexicans make theirs with corn, cumin and chili powder. And the French call theirs Beef Bourguignon and it’s made with mushrooms, pearl onions and a bottle of red wine. There are countless versions around the world of variations on beef stew. But when I get that craving for a soul satisfying, mouth watering, hearty stew, nothing else will do except for the French classic, Beef Bourguignon, served alongside a big hunk of crusty rustic sourdough bread (buttered, of course) to soak up every drop of stewed deliciousness. It’s just about the best snowy night dinner to enjoy in front of the fire with a bottle of Bordeaux.

Beef Bourguignon

The style of cooking stew is called braising and something magical happens when you braise a meat and no one does it better than the French. Coq au vin, Cassoulet, Lapin a La Cocotte and yes, Beef Bourguignon are amongst my favorite slow cooked, French country meals. When you braise, the flavors have hours to develop and permeate every bite. When you sear or grill, you simply can’t produce the same depth of flavor as you can with braising.

This Beef Bourguignon recipe comes from Ina Garten and uses cognac and a full bottle of red wine that creates a rich, elegant sauce that will have you scraping every last drop from your bowl. The inclusion of mushrooms brings a second level of heartiness that complements the beef perfectly and the pearl onions and carrots pull the party together with their natural sweetness. Together, they make every bite the best bite, which is always the goal of a perfect recipe.

Feaster’s Tips:

• Rather than buy the pre-cubed stew meat from the butcher counter, I prefer to cut my own beef cubes from one large cut of chuck to ensure uniform sizes and can control the quality of the cuts.

• Always make more than you think you need when you make this dish. It does not go as far as you think because everyone will go back for seconds.

The Recipe

Beef Bourguignon
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 15 mins
 
Course: entree
Cuisine: French
Keyword: beef, stew
Servings: 4 people
Author: Ina Garten
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 8 ounces dry cured center cut applewood smoked bacon diced
  • 2 1/2 pounds chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound carrots sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 yellow onions sliced
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic 2 cloves
  • 1/2 cup Cognac
  • 1 750 ml. bottle good dry red wine such as Cote du Rhone or Pinot Noir
  • 1 can 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature divided
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound frozen whole onions
  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms stems discarded caps thickly sliced
  • Country bread or Sour Dough toasted or grilled and rubbed with garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley.
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate.
  3. Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove the seared cubes to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside.
  4. Toss the carrots, and onions, 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper in the fat in the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac, stand back, and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with the juices. Add the bottle of wine plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add the tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven for about 1 1/4 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork.
  5. Combine 2 tablespoons of butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. Saute the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of butter for 10 minutes until lightly browned and then add to the stew. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste.
  6. To serve, toast the bread in the toaster or oven. Rub each slice on 1 side with a cut clove of garlic. For each serving, spoon the stew over a slice of bread and sprinkle with parsley.