Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Chicken Fajita Blackbean Chili

Sunday I made chili for lunch. I actually set out to make fajitas, or possibly nachos. Funny how cooking can go so far off course.

The problem was that we had an odd assortment of food in the house. I found chicken breasts, onions, and bell peppers (on the verge of going bad), so decided to do the fajita thing. I got everthing cut up, and was beginning to cook the meat when I found that we had no tortillas. We did have nach chips, so I thought I'd switch to taco salads. No lettuce. Back to the cupboard looking for black beans to make nachos. I found a can of "caribbean style black beans and rice". Close enough.

I had cut the chicken into thin strips--maybe 1/4-1/2" wide and was sauteeing them with a little olive oil (EVOO, you know). With more time and/or forethought I would have marinaded them for better flavor, but then this post would be completely different. When the chicken was basically cooked through, I added seasoning--chili powder from Penzey's, and a little cumin. I sprinkled it in dry, hoping to toast it a bit to bring out the flavor. I pulled the meat out of the pan, and set it in a bowl, covered, to rest while I dealt with the veggies.

The pan was really dry, so I added more EVOO and tossed in the onions and bell peppers. Unfortunately, the pan was not only dry, but way too hot, and the veggies didn't release enough liquid, so the seasonings were threatening to burn. There was a really nice fond on the bottom of the pan, but the onions were not nearly as soft as I like, and nowhere near carmelized, which I prefer (too many cold veggies, too little pan). I had to do something to keep things from burning.

So I deglazed the pan with about a cup of chicken broth made from a chicken soup base paste that I keep in the fridge. That helped, but now I had way too much liquid, and it wasn't cooking down.

Around here, my husband came in from mowing the lawn, saw my mess and suggested that I just call it 'soup'. So I did.

I dumped in the beans/rice, added the chicken back in, and finished it with a good squeeze of bottled lime juice. Overall: not bad. If I were setting out to make a chicken-fajita-blackbean-chili, I would have added a lot more chili powder though (or at least have thrown in some chipotle peppers). Overall, it was pretty good. Also, I would have used straight black beans, and not the rice-combo. And I wouldn't have cut the veggies into long strips (those are awkward on a spoon...)

Chicken Fajita Blackbean Chili (Serves 3-4)
Total cooking time about 30 minutes

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced into 1/4" wide strips
1 red bell pepper, diced into 1/2" chunks
1 medium yellow onion, diced into 1/2" chunks
1 can black beans
1 cup chicken broth (canned or from bouillon or a soup base)
(optional) hot peppers or canned chipotle peppers, to taste
chili powder (I prefer a no-salt-added one)--to taste, probably 1-4 TBSP or so
2 Tbsp lime juice (from a bottle is fine, or fresh-squeezed if you've got it)
2-4 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil or other cooking oil
Tortilla chips, sour cream, hot sauce, shredded cheese, etc for toppings

1. Heat 1 T oil in large skillet (NOT nonstick). Add chicken and saute until cooked thoroughly, about 10 minutes.
2. Add chili powder to chicken and heat until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. This will look dry!
3. Remove chicken from pan and cover. DO NOT CLEAN THE PAN! Add another Tbsp oil to pan, and all of the onions and peppers (sweet and hot). Saute 5-10 minutes until the onions are softened.
4. Leaving the veggies in the pan, add the chicken broth (i.e. deglaze the pan). Scrape the bottom of the pan with spoon/spatula to loosen all of the seasoning (that's where the flavor is).
5. Add the beans and chicken. Heat through.
6. Taste and adjust salt & pepper as necessary (the amount you need depends on your chili powder and salt content of the beans). Add the lime juice and sprinkle the cilantro as you're taking it off the heat.
7. Serve with chips, sour cream, shredded cheese, and whatever else sounds good :)

1 comment:

Kathy G said...

Sounds like you cook like I do!