Martha Stewart Living (October 2010)
We'll end October with what is likely our favorite recipe from this month's crop of food magazines.
But first, a side note. Earlier this week we wrote about Fine Cooking's excellent recipe for Classic Buttermilk Cornbread that so excellently walked the Mason-Dixon line. When we made that recipe, we really had no intention of writing about it. In fact, we didn't even make it to eat it as cornbread. Instead, we made it as a topping for this Chicken Chili. But after one taste of the cornbread, we knew we had to share it with you. It was that good.
We get a lot of questions from friends and people we meet about how and why we select certain recipes. Is it a random selection? Is there a process? Enough people ask, so maybe you're curious too. So here's what we do.
The food magazines for an upcoming month generally start arriving in the middle of the previous month. At least that's the case for most of the magazines. Cook's Illustrated arrives the earliest, while Saveur comes last, arriving closer to the actual start of each month.
As each month's food magazines roll into our mailbox, we spend time going through each one, and we make 'the list,' which is kept in a little black book that we keep. Some people's little black books are filled with phone numbers, ours just happens to be filled with recipes.
So Zach selects dishes, Clay selects dishes and the list is made. We'll typically select many more items than we actually end up having time to make, even if we were cooking every day. With some magazines, we end up with an entire page full of recipes we'd like to try; others, just a handful. We select recipes that we think sound good, but we also try to select recipes that are outside our cooking comfort zone. Maybe they're a new spin on a dish, or something really outlandish that we think will just be really fun (we're looking at you, Deep Fried Bacon and Eggs).
And from there, we just start cooking. Some dishes are selected for nights we know we'll be eating in. Other times, we invite friends over for dinner and cook multiple dishes from the list. A curse of eating at our house is that we rarely make the same dish twice (though there are recurring exceptions).
So some dishes get cooked. Others linger on the list and get left behind. And now November beckons, leaving October's orphans left behind.
So back to the cornbread. Funny enough, it wasn't on the list, which in most months would mean that it wouldn't get made. But this chili was on the list (a Zach selection), and we loved how Martha Stewart Living styled the dish, with big cubes of cornbread croutons. We wanted to make the chili and happened to remember that the October/November Fine Cooking had a cornbread feature, so we went back, pulled out the magazine and went to making the cornbread.
That's one very long introduction to what is the larger point of this post:
This chicken chili is well worth your time.
We've written before about Lucinda Scala Quinn, who authored Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys and is host of the television show of the same name that airs on the Hallmark Channel.
Zach is a fan, but Clay is a superfan (are they called Scala Quinn-heads?), having really loved the book and DVR'd a whole bunch of episodes of the show. We both like her unfussy but immensely wonderful recipes (we previously made Vinegar Glossed Chicken, which was also featured in Martha).
This chili is such a hit because it comes together very quickly -- easily in less than an hour -- yet it tastes as if it's been simmering it on the stovetop all day. We think it's the combination of chili powder with chiles in adobo, which give it a wonderfully deep, smoky flavor.
The only thing we question about this dish is its use of boneless, skinless chicken thighs. The skinless part we understand, but we believe (maybe after years of brainwashing from cooking magazines and shows) that bone-in chicken thighs have more flavor when cooked. If you use bone-in chicken thighs, you can remove them from the pot at the end and shred them using two forks, which is another step but one that we wouldn't mind.
Our sole regret about this dish is that we didn't make a double batch. It went far too fast and it would freeze wonderfully. It's a great, new spin on chili -- and it's destined to become one of those few recipes we make again and again.
If you're still with us at this point, we'll close by saying that we're very excited about next week, when we'll start featuring recipes from the November issues. We have a lot of very exciting things to share, and, believe it or not, we've already done all the cooking.
So we'll leave you with that tease. It's going to be a big November!
UPDATE: A Note from Zach and Clay of The Bitten Word:
- This recipe calls for "2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce." Several commenters have made the error of using 2 cans of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, which led to an incredibly spicy dish. The recipe means two chiles, not two cans of chiles, so just buy one can, use two chiles, and reserve the rest for another use (or freeze them)!
Total: 50 minutes
• 10 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
• 1 jalapeno chile, halved (seeded if desired)
• 1 white onion, peeled and halved
• 4 garlic cloves, peeled
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 1/4 cup chili powder
• 2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, finely chopped (see note above)
• 1 3/4 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
• 1 can (15 ounces) kidney beans, drained
1. Preheat broiler, with rack 3 inches from heat source. Arrange tomatoes, jalapeno, onion, and garlic, cut side down, on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil until starting to char, about 5 minutes. Pulse tomatoes and jalapeno in a blender or a food processor until chunky. Chop onion and mince garlic.
2. Heat a large heavy skillet (preferably enamel cast-iron) over medium-high heat. Add oil. Working in batches, brown chicken in a single layer, allowing to sear before stirring, 5 to 6 minutes; transfer to a plate.
3. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion and garlic to skillet. Cook until soft and golden, about 8 minutes. Add chili powder and 2 teaspoons salt. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in chipotles, and add chicken. Raise heat to high. Add tomato-jalapeno mixture. Cook, scraping up browned bits, until fully incorporated, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in stock; simmer for 20 minutes. Add beans; simmer for 10 minutes. Serve with desired toppings.