Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Chicken Cashew Chili - A WINNER!

Yesterday my office had their annual chili cook-off. (Unusual time of year for it, but the weather DID cool down in time for the occasion!) I was the reigning champion, submitting a modified version of a friend's recipe last year. I decided to go with a different recipe this year and to my surprise won the "Best in Show" award. The irony in me now holding a two year chili title is that I have not eaten any meat (at all) since I was five years old. I do however love to cook and always test my carnivore recipes on family and friends, taking their feedback as I will never taste them myself. If only I thought a vegetarian chili would be a contender in this contest! In the meantime, I thought I would share this year's winning recipe with you...and once football season starts up again I will post last year's winner.

Chicken Cashew Chili

4 dried ancho chiles
32 oz. chicken broth
2 tablespoon canned chipotle chiles in adobo (the sauce part only)
2 cups salted roasted cashews
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons salt
1 cooked rotisserie chicken, shredded
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes in juice
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons chopped jarred mild jalapeno peppers, chopped

Make the chile puree: Heat a dry small heavy skillet (not nonstick) over moderate heat until hot. Toast the dried chiles, one at a time, pressing down with tongs, for several seconds on each side to make them more pliable. Seed and devein dried chiles; discard stems. Tear dried chiles into pieces and transfer to a blender. Add broth, adobo sauce and cashews and puree until smooth. (Note: if you want a spicier chili, retain some of the seeds.)

Make the chili: Heat oil in a heavy pot over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add cumin and salt and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add chicken and stir to coat with onion mixture. Stir in chile puree, 1/4 cup cilantro, and tomatoes with juice. Stir in cooked shredded chicken. Cook over moderate heat, stirring, until chili is heated through and chocolate is melted. Allow to simmer on low heat at least 30-45 minutes.

Source: Adapted from The Freckled Citizen via "Gourmet Today" cookbook

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