January 13, 2017

Jamaican Jerk Chicken Chili

It's my first full winter in Madison in two years, and I forgot just how cold it can get. I've pretty much decided to stay inside for the forseeable future (as in June), so I'm stocking up on hot, comforting soup and stew recipes. This Jamaican jerk chicken chili really packs in some spice, and it's full of hearty chicken, beans, and veggies. It may look like a laundry list of ingredients, but half of it is the spice mixture used to season the chicken and the chili itself, so don't get too overwhelmed.

The list of spices may look a bit weird. There's ingredients you think of for Italian food, for baking, for grilling burgers, and ones that are just plain spicy. However, when combined, they make this incredibly savory, aromatic seasoning blend with just enough kick to make things interesting. I use it as a paste on the chicken and stir the rest into the chili so the whole bowl has that distinct jerk flair.

Like most of my slow cooker recipes, it is possible to just dump everything in the crockpot in the morning and eat it when you get home. However, you may have noticed by now that I prefer to brown some of the ingredients in a pot first to develop better flavors. Here, I sear off the chicken and cook the onions and peppers in the juices before cooking everything together. This gives you great flavors from Maillard browning instead of just poaching the chicken in the chili.

You can adjust the vegetables you add to the dish if you are so inclined. I use onions, bell peppers, and two kinds of beans (a bit arbitrarily) in a tomato base. You can substitute other kinds of beans, add some green chiles, or even add some fresh vegetables like diced tomatoes, celery, or corn.
Another variation is to add a splash of coconut milk for a creamier chili. To beef it up a bit, try adding browned sausage or serving it with rice. There are plenty of ways to adapt this tasty chili to you and your family's preferences (and keep up your New Year's resolutions!).

2 1/2 lbs Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
1/4 Cup Oil
1 T Chili Powder
1 tsp Cayenne
2 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Cumin
1 T Allspice
1 T Ginger
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Nutmeg
1 T Thyme
2 tsp Garlic Powder
2 tsp Onion Powder
2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Pepper
1 Yellow Onion, Diced
2 Bell Peppers, Diced
4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Habanero, Minced
1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
2 T Brown Sugar
1 14oz Can Kidney Beans, Drained & Rinsed
1 14oz Can Black Beans, Drained & Rinsed
1 28oz Can Crushed Tomatoes
2 Cups Chicken Broth
2 Limes

Whisk the spices together and add the oil. Rub 1/4 cup of the spice mixture on the chicken.

Heat some additional oil in a large skillet. Add the chicken and sear for 3 minutes per side or until browned. Remove. Add the onion and peppers and cook for 4 minutes or until softened. Stir in the garlic and habanero and cook for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer the peppers to a crockpot. Add the soy sauce, brown sugar, kidney beans, black beans, tomatoes, chicken broth, and remaining spice mixture. Nestle in the chicken and cook on low for 6 hours.

Remove the chicken and shred. Transfer back to the crockpot, stir in the juice from the limes, season with salt and pepper, and cook for an additional hour on low heat.

Serves 8
Recipe Adapted from Host the Toast

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