Spicy Chili Chicken

Honestly, no matter how hard I try to eat healthy food, there comes a time (more often than I would like) when I just crave the comfort of something spicy, yummy, finger-licking, lip smacking good, yet come with a not so healthy label. One of those dishes is chili chicken.

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I am sure there are as many variations of the dish as there are cooks and kitchens. So, this recipe is of course an original concocted in my kitchen, and enjoyed my many.

(Disclaimer: I did not intend to really post this recipe, so I did not take too many pictures! Talking about pictures, I need to “grow” some patience to fiddle with the settings on my Galaxy or use an actual camera! One of these days! Anyway, the taste and flavor profile of the dish convinced me to take couple of quick pictures to actually post this recipe!)

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This dish, unlike some other recipes you might have seen online is very straightforward. Ingredients are just chicken, few basic spices, lots of cayenne powder, a splash of apple cider vinegar and a coating of Thai sweet soy sauce. That’s it guys! So, you ask me what makes this slip from the relatively healthy domain into the not so healthy one…well, it’s kind of the liberal use of oil and cornstarch. You could definitely cut down on the oil and cornstarch or completely eliminate the latter, but the texture will be a bit different. So, I suggest you try the recipe as is the first time and tweak for the subsequent tries – because I know you will want to make it again!

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Spicy Chili Chicken

  • Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients:
8 chicken thighs, bone in (you can use boneless as well)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 tablespoons ground cayenne (or to taste)
1 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
6 cloves of garlic, minced or grated finely
4-6 Thai chili peppers or other spicy pepper like jalapeno, sliced lengthwise
1 sprig of curry leaves (if available)
3 tablespoons canola or other light flavored oil
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 – 2 tablespoons sweet Thai soy sauce

Preparation:
1. Remove skin of the chicken, and cut into 4 or 5 pieces. Place in a large bowl.
2. Add all spices, through garlic to the chicken and mix thoroughly to coat. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes.
3. Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan. To this, add the chili and curry leaves, if using. Toss in oil for few seconds.
4. Add the chicken, mix well, cover and cook under high heat for 15 minutes, turning the chicken pieces occasionally.
5. Sprinkle the cornstarch. Mix well to coat.
6. Cover the pan and continue to cook for another 15 minutes, turning occasionally. By now, the chicken pieces will be cooked all the way through and there will not be any liquid remaining. If there is some liquid remaining, remove lid, reduce heat and continue to cook till the all liquid evaporates.
7. Add the soy sauce and toss well. Cook for another 2 minutes.

The chicken can be served as an appetizer (a welcome change from chicken wings) or with steamed rice or noodles and veggies for a complete meal. And, oh, the chicken tastes great cold too.

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Easy as 1-2-3 Chili

Easy as 1-2-3 Chili

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: moderate easy
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There is nothing quite like a steaming bowl of chili (with all your favorite toppings of course!) to make the winter blues melt away – at least when it comes to warming your tummy! You might have your favorite type of soup/stew that you look forward to, but I kind of favor chili because I can easily incorporate veggies, beans, additional fiber in the form of my secret ingredient (yes, I will disclose it pretty soon here) and also a sneaky dose of antioxidants (hello cocoa!).
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Chili receives a mixed reception in my household! My kids usually whine “why??!!” when I tell them I am making it but usually polish off their bowl – even if half-heartedly at times! May be that goes back to one of my earlier posts about eating habits forming early in childhood. Despite their little whimper about not wanting any chili, I proceeded to make some the other night because I had all the ingredients on hand and I will be able to whip this up rather easily to share with my neighbors (you may remember that I was going to share some with them for helping us clear the snow).

I really prefer to go the route of made-from-scratch rather than semi-homemade.  I think you can be much more creative with using things on hand and coming up with something quite unique and delicious. So, except for couple of canned items, most ingredients are freshly prepared.

Before you go to the list of ingredients, here is a disclaimer. Do not let the rather longish list discourage you from trying out this recipe. Once you prepare the ingredients, it is really a snap to put it all together – and you will be glad you did when you savor the first spoonful of this delicious chili with your favorite toppings!

Ingredients:

1lb ground lean beef or turkey

2- 15-oz cans of beans of your choice

1 cup diced red pepper

1 cup chopped carrots

½ cup chopped onions

2 large cloves of garlic (minced)

1 cup of diced celery

1 tablespoon coriander powder

1 ½ teaspoon cumin powder

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp salt (adjusted to taste)

1 tsp minced chipotle pepper with a bit of sauce

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

¼ cup chopped cilantro, if desired

Thanks for still hanging in there.

Preparation:

1. Start by preparing all the vegetables, including garlic and cilantro. Have your seasoning containers laid out or even better measured out. Now you are ready!

2. Heat a large pot over medium high heat and brown the meat for few minutes (about 5 minutes or so). To that add the onions, garlic and celery. Saute for few minutes till onion and celery become a bit soft.

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3. At this point, add the oats and toss them around. Follow with the ground spices, herbs and salt.
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4. Drain the canned beans and rinse well. Add them to the pot and stir briefly. FYI, in the picture below, you will see some strange brownish beans. These are brown pigeon peas leftover from another recipe the previous day and I just used them up as well.
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5. At this point, you are ready to add rest of the chopped veggies, tomato sauce and chipotle.
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6. Cover the pot with a lid, reduce heat to medium low setting and let simmer for about 25 minutes.Now, add the “secret” ingredient (which is not so secret anymore) and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes till all the flavors meld together and you get a delicious pot of awesomeness.

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7. Serve a bowl of this with your favorite toppings – sour cream, bacon bits, cheese, green onions/chives, crushed tortilla chips or just a toasted slice of bread. Enjoy!