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January 2, 2017

Italian Chicken Chili

2017 is off to a great start. My family is celebrating with a Costco-sized tub of cookie dough, I got some great presents for Hannukah, I'm enjoying the slightly chilly weather at home, and Wisconsin just won the Cotton Bowl. I've got a ton of cozy (and usually healthy) recipes to enjoy while I'm home for the next few days, so I figured I'd share one that's perfect for making in the blustery January weather to meet all your resolutions. This hearty chili is packed with beans, vegetables, lean chicken, and a bit of sausage for flavor in a thick broth with a splash of balsamic vinegar.


Like many of my crockpot recipes, it is possible to just dump everything in the bowl and let it cook all day. However, I find that you get so much more flavor when you cook a few ingredients strategically first. Sausage may not be the healthiest ingredient, but you need a bit of fat to cook the chicken in anyway so you might as well make it count. I cook the sausage until brown and cook the chicken in the flavorful fat left over so it soaks up all the goodness. After that, I cook onions and mushrooms in the fat left over from that step so none if it goes to waste. Adding tomato paste, garlic, and spices directly to the pan allows you to rescue all the brown bits that are so important for flavor development.


You could keep adding the ingredients to that pot if you don't have a crockpot, but I feel much better about leaving a crockpot going all day than my stove. You can even prep the above steps at night and leave it cooking all day the next day so it's ready for dinner on day two with no work that morning. Just combine the mushroom and onion mixture with some chicken broth, balsamic vinegar, canned tomatoes, and beans. Add the chicken and sausage and cook for a few hours until it's tender. The last step is shredding the chicken and adding it back in with some kale, sun-dried tomatoes, and roasted peppers. Those ingredients would fall apart if cooked for hours, so I add them in for only one hour until the kale is palatable. You can easily substitute in your favorite greens or beans if you don't like what I've suggested, and you can always add or take out anything that suits your taste. Since it's a crock pot recipe, you end up with plenty of chili. It freezes incredibly well, so portion it out and defrost it on those days when you want to order takeout to avoid cooking but don't want to break your resolutions. I'll be back soon with more healthy recipes to kick off 2017!


1/2 lb Italian Sausage
2 lbs Boneless Chicken
1 Large Yellow Onion, Diced
8oz Button Mushrooms, Sliced
4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 6oz Can Tomato Paste
1 T Chili Powder
1 T Paprika
1 T Garlic Powder
1 T Onion Powder
4 Cups Chicken Broth
1/3 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 15.5oz Can Cannellini Beans, Drained
1 14.5oz Can Petite Diced Tomatoes
3 Cups Shredded Kale
1/2 Cup Diced Sun-Dried Tomatoes
1 Cup Chopped Roasted Peppers


Cook the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat until browned. Remove from the pan and sear the chicken in the sausage fat until brown. Remove from the pan. Cook the onions and mushrooms in the skillet for 4 minutes or until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms have released some water. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder. Season with salt and pepper.

In a crockpot, combine the onion mixture, sausage, chicken broth, balsamic vinegar, cannellini beans, and diced tomatoes. Nestle the chicken in the crockpot and cook for 4 hours on high.

Remove the chicken and shred. Put the shredded chicken back in the crockpot with the kale, sun-dried tomatoes, and roasted peppers. Cook on high for 1 hour.

Serves 8
Recipe Adapted from Half Baked Harvest

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