Operation Chili: Part 2

As I continue on my quest to widen my chili expertise, I look for unique deviations from the usual beans and ground meat. My trusted source of inspiration --Cooking Light-- provided me with two novel ideas for the third and fourth installments of my chili series: CHILI WITH CHIPOTLE & CHOCOLATE and PORK AND HOMINY CHILI. The first, though fairly standard in its core ingredients, integrates the smoky spice of chipotle chiles with the earthly sweetness of chocolate for a complex richness of flavor. I tried the Chili with Chipotle & Chocolate recipe a few weeks ago, though much to my chagrin it was a bit too spicy for the delicate palates of my mom and brother. I, however, more adventurous with the heat of my dishes, found it a perfect marriage of spice and sweet, and a very interesting way to play with the usual chili ingredients.


Cooking spray
2 cups diced onion (about 1 large)
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/4 pounds ground turkey breast

3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 chipotle chiles, canned in adobo sauce, minced

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup light sour cream
Chopped green onions (optional)

1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic, and turkey to pan; sauté 8 minutes or until turkey is browned and vegetables are tender.
2. Add sugar and next 9 ingredients (through chipotle) to pan, stirring to blend; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 15 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Add chocolate, stirring to melt.
3. Ladle 1 1/4 cups chili in each of 8 bowls; top each serving with 1 tablespoon sour cream. Garnish with green onions.

(Note: This chili recipe does have more of a kick than most --at least ones that I have made. I thought it was successful, but others might not agree. Perhaps using 1 chipotle chile instead of 2 would take some heat off if you prefer milder chile. I mistakenly forgot about the dollup of sour cream initially, which also would have cooled the spice factor down a bit. After adding some to her bowl, my mom admitted that it was more enjoyable for her tastebuds.)


The second recipe, Pork and Hominy Chili, struck me as interesting since it uses pork chops instead of the standard ground turkey, beef or chicken, and rather than using beans, it highlights hominy -- an ingredient that I had no familiarity with until I came across this dish. I learned that hominy is a nutty, tender ingredient made from dried, hulled corn kernels. Unfortunately, the market at which I went shopping for my ingredients for this dish did not have canned hominy, but I was told that canned corn could easily be substituted. I also opted out of using the pork chops and instead used chicken breasts, which I cooked and then shredded with a fork before adding to the chili. So, I guess my take on this recipe must be re-named as the alliterative Chicken and Corn Chili. Here's my creation:


2 teaspoons canola oil
8 ounces chicken breasts (I used 1 full breast), trimmed

1 cup chopped onion (about 1 medium)
3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic

1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

1/4 cup no-salt-added tomato paste
1 (15.5-ounce) can golden corn, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts to pan; sauté 4 minutes on each side, until lightly browned and cooked through. Remove from skillet and transfer to cutting board. Shred breasts with a fork and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in chicken, chili powder and next 4 ingredients (through red pepper). Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in tomato paste, corn, tomatoes, and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10+ minutes.

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