Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Black Bean Chicken Chili

A couple of weeks ago I had lots of ingredients and nothing that worked together. I also had chicken that I needed to get cooked. It was one of those nights where the food you have to cook is not the food you planned to cook. Suddenly I was improvising. More then once these have turned out to be some of my best meals, which is why I started keeping a notebook in my kitchen to write things down as I go. I'm hoping to get my new camera figured out soon so I can start putting some pictures of the finished products up with the recipes. Until then you will just have to trust me that this looked great with some shredded cheese on top and a big dollop of sour cream.

This was planned to be something more like an italian soup, and ended up as a nice thick chicken chili. With lentils.

1/2 white onion diced
1 teaspoon garlic diced
1 pound boneless skinless chicken, cubed
1 can dice tomatoes with jalapeno, I used Hunts Petite Diced with Zesty Jalapeno - It's been in my house for months so I'm glad I finally got it used up.
1-2 teaspoons (or more to taste) of Penzy's Chili 3000 - the best chili powder I've ever found
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1 large can black beans, well rinsed
1 1/2 32 oz box of Beef broth - see note below
4 shakes of red chili pepper flakes - using a standard shaker like the ones you see at pizza places
2/3 cup red lintels

Saute the onion and garlic until they begin to brown, add the chicken and cook till half done. Add tomatoes with juice, and boil for 1 - 2 minutes. Stir in chili powder, cayenne, cumin, salt and pepper and cook for about 1 minute. I add the seasonings before the broth so they have some time to cook, I think it helps develop and blend the flavors. I usually season again towards the end, to get the flavor just right. Add black beans, and 1 box broth and bring to low boil. Simmer until it's beginning to thicken, add the lentils and remaining broth, and cook 30 minutes until lentils are soft.

You could skip the lentils if you have time to let it boil down on it's own, I was getting very hungry and wanted to thicken it up quickly. That being said, I loved the lentils in this, made it a little different from my standard chili, which is a white chicken chili. Also, I used beef broth with chicken because it's what I had and I needed to use it up. Normally I wouldn't mix chicken and beef like that, but I really liked it in this, and I think it went very well with the black beans and the lentils. I might even do it on purpose next time. If someone makes this with chicken broth please let me know what you think.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Crispin Cider Beef Stew

This year for Christmas I received a very nice blank recipe book from a good friend. That means I need to fill it up. On a recent grocery trip I decided at the last minute to get the ingredients for beef stew, which of course means I forgot a few things. Which lead to a little improvisation, and a new "secret ingredient". This is a great new stew that I will definitely be making again.

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 Large Tablespoon garlic
1 purple onion, diced
1 pound beef or lamb stew meat - I used beef the first time, and I can't wait to make it again with lamb
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 pinches rubbed sage
1 heaping spoon tomato paste
5 small yellow potatoes
2 handfulls baby carrots, or 4 regular carrots, diced
1 regular box Swanson beef broth
2 long splashes worcestershire sauce

I caramelized the garlic and onion in a tablespoon of oil. I like to use Smart Balance Vegetable oil, veggie oil because it has a lower smoke point, Smart Balance because The Man's family has a history of heart problems. I added the stew meat and cooked it till browned, letting the pan build up a good amount of coating. Pour the cider down the sides of the pan and stir well, bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan. Cook 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cider is reduced by 2/3. Season the meat and cook for 1 minute, add tomato paste, broth, and vegetables. Bring stew to a boil, add worcestershire sauce, and reduce to simmer till thickened as desired. I found that using the cider made for a very well rounded flavor. The Lansdowne is made with organic molasses and Irish Stout yeast. That makes it a very beer-like cider, or as the official Crispin PR says "Unfiltered Extra Stout Bodied Super-Premium Export Quality". There is a great review of it here on Will Write For Beer. I've had plenty of it in my day, and the large bottle means there is plenty of it left over to enjoy with a big bowl of stew.