Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fudging Chili

I adore a good soup recipe, especially if it's Crock-Pot-able.  That means it can include most things, with the exception of some cream-based delicacies that I never make anyway.  So when I find one, I just have to share.  Is there anything better than being in your office in the afternoon, feeling your stomach grumble and remembering "I have a delicious pot of soup simmering and marinating and transforming for me on the counter"?  Knowing you're being taken out to dinner at The Heathman maybe beats it, but in that case you have to keep your heels on.  Crock Pots love you in dirty sweatpants and without your bra (at least, I think it still loves me). 

Last week, I pulled an un-tried White Chicken Chili recipe out of my monstrous file, clipped from Food Network Magazine sometime last year.  It was by Melissa D'Arabian, who I have to like by default because she lives in Kirkland, and I still consider myself a King County Seattle girl.  It's why I keep my 253 area code around after 7 years in Oregon; I still hope that, someday, I'll be back on Puget Sound's salty shores.  Willamette River, your toxic freshwater is bullshit.  Anyway.  So I do like her, and rooted for her back when she was on The Next Food Network Star, even though I think her $10 dinners are a complete fraud.  Bitch, please.  I can't get out of Safeway under $10 for fresh ingredients and protein for 4 people, so can the gimmick and just cook.  Same with Claire Robinson.  I don't CARE if you have more than 5 ingredients!  If it's five or fifteen, I just want my food to taste good.  And Rachael Ray, just go away.  Forever.

Anyway.  So I picked this out, not reading through it like I usually do, which is actually quite the cooking no-no.  Read your recipes! Prevent mistakes!  Someday I'll learn, probably.  Then I'll avoid situations like this: after reading through her original recipe, I found it not only step-intensive, but also designed for a stovetop cook.  Well, eff that!  My Crock-Pot is out, and there is no way I'm making chili after getting home late.  Not to mention it would break my cardinal rule: always let a soup sit overnight.  I did some of the prep steps, including roasting the Anaheim peppers and garlic, and sauteeing the shallots with yet more raw garlic.  I added extra beans because one can didn't seem like enough (it wouldn't have been), and I rubbed the chicken breasts I used in Penzey's Arizona Dreaming spice before cooking them and tearing them up for delicious chili infusion.  I took all of those long-simmer ingredients and dumped them into the Crock-Pot, saving the 1/2 cup of cream and frozen spinach for after I got home and right before serving.  The levels of flavors with the roasted peppers and garlic two ways made this the most multi-faceted chicken chili I've ever had, and much better than the super-flat chicken tortilla soups I've been eating lately.  You know who had an amazing chicken tortilla soup?  Chili's.  Unfortunately they pulled their last Portland-area location about six months ago, leaving only a Eugene outlet in the Oregon market. 

So try this soup.  Or drive to Eugene.  Whatever.

Melissa Di'Amended Chili
1 head garlic, cut off at the head to expose cloves and drizzled with olive oil, wrapped in tinfoil and roasted in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes, until the interior cloves yield to a gentle squeeze
6 shallots, chopped
3 Anaheim chiles
3 cloves garlic
1 cup dry white wine (I used leftover Sherry from Thanksgiving and then threw it away.  God that stuff smells harsh!)
7 cups chicken broth
4 cups cooked, shredded chicken
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 can white beans, undrained
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 box or bag of frozen spinach
1/2 cup heavy cream
Grated cheese, cilantro and Greek-style plain yogurt/sour cream for garnish

Get your Crock-Pot out.

Saute the mined shallots and non-roasted garlic in a small saucepan with olive oil until softened, about 5 minutes.  Place the chiles on a tinfoil-lined cookie sheet and broil until charred on each side, flipping once, about 8-10 minutes.  Wrap the chiles in the foil and allow to rest for about 15 minutes.  The skin will now practically fall off the peppers, allowing you to seed, stem and finely chop them.  Place the shallot and garlic mixture and the chopped peppers into the pot.

Add chicken broth, wine, chicken, spices and beans into the pot.  Add the roasted garlic by squeezing it out from the cloves and pinching it between your fingers to soften, then let it plop into the liquid.  Mix well and refrigerate overnight.  Remove from fridge before you head off for yet another grueling workday, plugging the Crock-Pot in and placing on low heat.  When you get home, about half an hour before serving, add the spinach and cream.  Ladle into bowls and top with grated cheese of your choice (pepper jack is awesome), cilantro and cream.  Maybe some of those yummy little tortilla strip crunchies if you have them.

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