Hello, quiet January. As much as I love the holidays, by January I’m ready to move on, to hunker down and hibernate. For me, that means cozy evenings spent catching up with books and cooking large pots of food that’ll get me through the week. Simple one-pot dishes are my favorite, especially piping hot with a cut of slow-roasted meat, a smattering of good spices, and some kind of vegetable to keep the dish in check.
I have probably mentioned before that the kind of food I love most is a hybrid of healthy and comforting. This is the kind of cooking vaguely reminiscent of your mother’s kitchen — but the kind of mother who favored fresh vegetables and did a fine job of sneaking them into your dinner.
And this chili is surprisingly simple: just plump beans, shredded chicken, diced tomatoes, onion, a generous blast of smoky ancho and chipotle chile powders, and some sharp jalapeño jack cheese and fresh cilantro to keep things lively. It will easily feed a gaggle of folks for dinner or provide a week’s worth of lunches. Freeze some for a dreary winter evening; it’s like a little gift to have such good, satisfying food tucked away and waiting for you.
Hearty Chicken Chili
Yield: 6-8 servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large, yellow onion, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chipotle chile powder (reduce if sensitive to spicy food)
1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
3 cups cooked snowcap, pinto or similar bean (Rancho Gordo has fantastic beans and instructions.)
3 cups shredded, cooked chicken
1.5 teaspoons ground cumin
1.5 teaspoons dried oregano
Sea salt to taste
Fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
Shredded jalapeño jack cheese
Heat a large, heavy pot over a medium flame. When the pot is warmed, add the olive oil. Add the onions and garlic and saute until onion is translucent, stirring occasionally to prevent the garlic from burning, about five minutes. Stir in the chipotle and ancho chile powders. Add the diced tomatoes with their juices, the cooked beans, chicken, cumin and oregano, and stir. You may need to add a 1/2 cup of water if too dense. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 25 minutes. Add salt to taste.
Ladle into bowls and top with cilantro and shredded jalapeño jack cheese.
Kimberley Hasselbrink is a food photographer and blogger based in San Francisco. She is the author of the blog The Year in Food, which is framed around a monthly seasonal food guide. Kimberley enjoys unusual produce, strong coffee, road trips and summer nights.