The weather has turned here with a vengeance. While I’m still wistfully longing for the days of sunshine and barbecues I must admit that I have a certain fondness for the fall. Curling up in front of the fire with a good book or talking a walk and feeling the leaves crinkle beneath your feet it makes this one of my favorite seasons. Rainy weather makes me crave something to chase away the chill and wet. We love chili in our house because I can make a huge pot of it over the weekend and we can enjoy it on nights when we are getting home late from work or basketball practice.
I prefer to use dried chili’s that are toasted, soaked and then pureed in my chili recipes; they add a depth and richness to the chili that is more intense than dried chili powder. If you don’t want to bother with this step you can substitute 2 tablespoons of good chili powder for the puree. Be creative with the toppings for your chili, we like a little sour cream, cheese and fresh lime juice, but radishes, chopped onions and fresh cilantro are just a few other suggestions. This recipe also makes a wonderful vegetarian chili if you omit the ground chicken. Like with most chili the longer you cook it the deeper the flavor and it tastes even better the second day.
Chicken, black bean and sweet potato chili
3 whole dried ancho chiles
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 ½ pounds ground chicken breast
2 cups chopped red onion
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 bottle (12 ounce) of mild lager beer
1 can (15-ounce) fire roasted tomatoes
1 can (15-ounce) black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups diced peeled sweet potato
salt and pepper to taste
Toast dried chilies in a dry skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant and blistered, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove stems and seeds; discard. Transfer chiles to a small saucepan and add enough water to just cover roughly 1 cup. Bring the chiles to a boil and add the apple cider vinegar. Let soak for 30 minutes and then puree in a blender.
Heat a large pot over high heat. Add one tablespoon oil. Season chicken with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Cook the chicken about 8-10 minutes or until it begins to take on color. Transfer to a plate.
Add remaining tablespoon of oil to the pot and add the onions and garlic and cook over medium-high heat until onions start to caramelize and take on color about 8-10 minutes. Add cumin, cocoa and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute. Add beer and cook for a minute scraping the bottom of the pan.
Stir in chicken and chile puree. Add tomatoes, black beans, sweet potatoes and ½ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer gently partially covered for at least 1 hour or up to 2, the longer it cooks the more the flavors develop. If chili seems dry add a little water to the mixture. Serve with sour cream, diced herbs, shredded cheese and wedges of lime if desired.