I can still hardly believe that we got snow in west Texas. When we left the Ozarks after the holidays, I thought I’d said goodbye for snow for the winter. We had gotten a light dusting over a couple of days before the new year, and I reveled in the fat flakes floating down, the frosty scenery, the warm fireplace and the snuggly socks.
And then, one morning, back in our post-holiday life, we woke up to two inches of the white stuff. Work on base was postponed until late morning and we got to pretend we were having a snow day, luxuriating in our warm bedcovers, drinking coffee and reading, and eating a long, late breakfast. Eventually Andrew went to work and so did I, but in between writing projects I had a developed a pretty serious hankering for chili. I hadn’t made it to the store to pick up any ground beef since we’d gotten back into town, but I did have some frozen ground chicken and some gorgeous Hatch chili peppers that were making googly eyes at each other in the fridge. A few hours of roasting and simmering later, I had a pot of fragrant, spicy chili ready, perfect for a snow day.
We woke up the next morning and all the snow was gone, as is expected in the desert. One day a winter wonderland, the next, a dry and dusty plain. At least it’s consistent.
Roasted Chicken Chili
1 lb. ground chicken
1.5 c. broth (I used homemade beef stock)
1.5 c. diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 tsp. dried oregano + sage
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. cumin + paprika + ground coriander
salt + pepper
1 tsp. Red Boat fish sauce
1 jalepeno, seeded + diced
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves roasted garlic
1 roasted Hatch chili pepper
3 small cumin-roasted zucchinis
squeeze of lime juice
In a heavy bottomed pot, brown the ground chicken. Add spices, tomato paste, garlic, onions, jalepeno, Hatch pepper (trim stem but leave the seeds) and a bit of broth. Simmer to combine. (I actually like my onions caramelized, and what I usually do is remove the browned meat to drain while I cook the onions in the same pan. However, the chicken didn’t have much fat, and so I caramelized the onions in some coconut oil in my cast iron skillet while the chicken browned.) Pour in the rest of the broth, diced tomatoes, fish sauce. Cover pot and simmer.
Meanwhile, roast zucchini in a 400 degree oven. Slice into thin strips, toss in oil of choice (I used coconut oil), and sprinkle liberally with salt and cumin. Roast until golden-charred, about 20 minutes. Chop and add to chili.
Simmer on low uncovered until the chili thickens. Squeeze the juice of a lime over chili and season to taste. Serve with fresh bell peppers, avocado, and any other desired garnishes.
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I roasted my Hatch peppers at 475 degrees until they started to char, then I lowered the heat to 400 degrees to keep cooking them without too much burning. I usually keep some roasted garlic around because I like the flavor better than raw garlic. I’ll toss a head of garlic in the oven whenever something else savory is roasting, and take it out whenever the cloves start to turn golden brown.
You can certainly add more roasted vegetables to amp up the flavor — roasted sweet potatoes, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes or even cauliflower would go nicely with the already roasty flavors of the Hatch pepper, garlic and zucchinis.