Tom’s Chicken Chili
Serves 8 or more
6 skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts (3-4 pounds), or 7 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 quart chicken stock (boxed is fine)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, cut in large dice
2 fresh jalapeño peppers, ribs and seeds removed, minced very finely
4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 4-ounce can diced roasted green chiles
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
1 tablespoon medium-hot red chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
4 15-ounce cans Cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
Freshly-squeezed lime juice
Optional: 1 or 2 small fresh corn tortillas
Optional garnishes: sour cream, diced raw onion, sliced pickled jalapeños, shredded cheddar cheese, lime wedges
For the bone-in chicken, put all the pieces in a large pot and add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let everything sit for another 10 minutes. Take the chicken pieces out of the liquid and set them aside to cool a bit more, then cover and refrigerate them. (For the boneless breasts, cut them into bite-sized pieces and refrigerate.
Mix the cumin, ancho and regular chili powders, oregano, 1-1/2 teaspoons of salt and a few grinds of pepper in a small bowl and set aside.
In a separate large heavy pot with a lid, like a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and a teaspoon of salt, stir and cook the onions over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the minced jalapeño (don’t stick your face over the pot or you’ll get burned from the vapors) and cook for another five minutes or so, until the onion starts to brown a little. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Then stir in the spice mixture and cook for another 30 seconds. Add the canned chiles and the Worcestershire sauce, then stir in about 1 cup of the broth to loosen anything that’s sticking to the bottom. Add the rest of the broth, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for half an hour.
Stir in the beans, bring to a boil again, then lower the heat, partially cover the pot, and simmer for 45 minutes. Using a heatproof 2-cup measure, remove about a cup of the beans and liquid and blend until smooth. Return the puree to the pot. At this point, you can cover the pot and let it sit for a while.
Remove the skin and bones from the chicken and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Bring the bean mixture to a boil and then turn the heat to low. Add the cut-up chicken (either the raw or cooked pieces) and stir for about 10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked (if you used the boneless breasts) and heated all the way through. Taste for salt and pepper. Add a tablespoon of fresh lime juice and then taste and see if you need some more.
For the optional tortilla thickener: tear one tortilla into small pieces and put it in the blender jar. Add about a half cup of liquid from the chili and blend until smooth. Add to the chili, then taste and decide if you want to add another tortilla (or part of one).
Serve with or without garnishes. It will stay hot nicely on the stove without the heat on for at least an hour, and it’s great left over too.