Once upon a time I was a self-proclaimed chili snob. I swore up and down, left and right that I only liked TRUE Texas chili, could only eat it with cheese and Fritos, and anyone who tried to get me to eat something otherwise was just plain silly.
I was such a young crazy kid. I flipping love chili, and pretty much any and every chili ever made. I can be completely honest now: I don’t discriminate. I like it with beans and without, red and white, all kinds of meat, vegetarian or a carnivore’s dream. Corn? Sure, why not! Also, let’s toss some chopped sour cream, onion, pico, and avocado on there. No cheese? No problem!
I love it all. So to all of the chili that I hated on before: I apologize from the bottom of my chili-loving heart. It really wasn’t you, it was me. I didn’t know better, but thankfully now I do.
You guys, this chili is literally one of the best ones I’ve ever made. It’s slightly spicy, but not so much so that you just can’t stomach more than a tablespoon of the stuff. It’s rich from really well-developed flavors and a good slow cook time. It’s not something that you just toss in a pot and it comes out as this magical miraculous chili perfection – like all good things in life, you have to work at it. But I promise you that it is SO worth it!
I got the idea for the slow-cooking from watching my newest Food Network obsession, Secrets of a Restaurant Chef. Like chili, I hated on Chef Anne Burrell for a while thinking she was too bold and too loud and expected too much. When I started staying home with Wes her show ended up being just about the only thing on during his lunchtime nap, so I just let it play in the background. Then one day I sat down to eat in front of the TV and realized, “HEY. Homegirl knows what she’s talking about. And she’s wild about food and not afraid to show it. I think I like her!”
Why have I spent so much time hating on good things?!
So I have to say that I got the idea for the base of this chili from her fabulous Bolognese recipe – and I have to say here and now that when I say in the instructions to brown the vegetables and to brown the tomato paste you have to trust me on it. Like Chef Anne says, brown food tastes good, and you will NOT regret browning the vegetables and tomato paste. It’s the difference between a really thin MEH chili and a MINDBLOWINGBOWLOFGOODNESS chili. So let’s get to it, ok?
- 1 red onion, peeled and chopped
- 3 small carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 ribs celery, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
- 6 ounces (a small can) tomato paste
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 Tbsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (less if you like it less spicy)
- 3 chicken breasts
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup corn kernels (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
First you want to bake the chicken – trust me on this. When you bake the chicken first and then add it to the chili it keeps it moist and flavorful, not stringy. Preheat the oven to 375. Place the chicken breasts in a baking dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle a little olive oil on them if you want, then bake for about 35 minutes until just done. Let them cool slightly then shred with a fork. Set aside.
For the chili, heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. While the oil is heating put the onion, carrot, celery, pepper, and jalapenos in a food processor and process until they form a kind of paste. Add the vegetables to the oil and season with salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until they reach a deep golden brown. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until the entire mixture reaches a deep red color. Y’all, you really want to do this! Once the deep brown has been reached, stir in the chili powder, paprika and cayenne. Slowly add the chicken stock, scraping the bottom of the pot to release all of the brown bits. Let the mixture simmer until the liquid has reduced by half, then add about 3 cups of water. Stir to combine, check for seasonings and adjust as desired, and then step away from the pot. Let this simmer until about 2/3 of the water evaporates. The chili should be thick and rich now. Add the shredded chicken, beans, and corn (if using) and let them all heat through with the chili. Once everything is hot, remove from the heat and serve with whatever you want – honestly I thought it was so good I just ate it as-is and loved it!