I once heard a woman say, “You can’t make chili for two people.”  As I began to write today, thinking about that conversation did make me do just a little bit of research…because I often make chili for one or two!

Chili is American, isn’t it?  That much we think we know, but read on.  There’s also the  beans or no beans dilemma.  “If you know beans about chili, you’ll know there are no beans in chili,” Texans say.  Minnesotans go, “Huh?”  when you quote the beans line.  Then there’s the meat.  There’s chili and there’s chili con carne.  After a while, you start wondering what is in chili.  Today, there are as many variations as there are cook-offs, parties, and so on.  Chili is served regularly at Super Bowl, Halloween, and at neighborhood or church gatherings.  Here’s an interesting bit of chili lore from whatscookingamerica.net–just for fun:


According to an old Southwestern American Indian legend and tale (several modern writer have documented – or maybe just “passed along”) it is said that the first recipe for chili con carne was put on paper in the 17th century by a beautiful nun, Sister Mary of Agreda of Spain. She was mysteriously known to the Indians of the Southwest United States as “La Dama de Azul,” the lady in blue. Sister Mary would go into trances with her body   lifeless for days. When she awoke from these trances, she said her spirit had been to a faraway land where she preached Christianity to savages and counseled them to seek out Spanish missionaries.

 It is certain that Sister Mary never physically left Spain, yet Spanish missionaries and King Philip IV of Spain believed that she was the ghostly “La Dama de Azul” or “lady in blue” of Indian Legend. It is said that sister Mary wrote down the recipe for chili which called for venison or antelope meat, onions, tomatoes, and chile peppers. No accounts of this were ever recorded, so who knows?

Whoa!  Gives me a chill or two.  But what about your chili…just for one or two?  I often make Ina Garten’s chicken chili (among others–I love Silver Palate chili for a crowd) from Barefoot Contessa Parties.  It’s on page 232 and serves 12. But as I made it last week, it seemed a perfect meal for this blog.   To begin with, it’s made with chicken breasts (skin removed after cooking) you’ve either just roasted or have in the frig from yesterday’s dinner–or even the rotisserie chicken from the store– and it also includes vegetables that cook quickly–onions and sweet peppers.

That makes it healthy, wealthy, and wise--and fast for chili.  Secondly, it doesn’t have beans so while you have less starch (and that sort of fiber), you also have more vegetables and less calories.  I do, truth to tell, often make a pot of beans alongside it… so that we can have beans and cornbread another day.

But you needn’t make beans; it’s great on its own.  Or there might be a can of some sort of beans on your pantry shelf (I hope) and you can use those should beans be needed.  While I look at the recipe for six (see Food Network link above/below) or twelve (in Ina’s book) and just cut it down by intuition/taste while cooking, I’ve tried to get approximate measurements for a smaller batch here. Do please consider this a guideline only and use your own judgement and tasting abilities.  While I think of it:  I also often add chopped zucchini and/ or mushrooms. Your frig might contain other wonders you’ll think of adding.  But, enough of all this.  Let’s stop talking chili and start making it.   Here’s the recipe with great thanks to Ina, who’s one of my heroines:

Ina Garten’s Chicken Chili cut down to– two servings

  • 1 cup chopped yellow onions
  • 1T good olive oil, plus extra for chicken
  • 1 clove garlic, minced  
  • 1 1/2 red bell peppers–or yellow (or a combination) cored, seeded, and large-diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Tiny pinch dried red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • Tiny pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1/2 t kosher salt, plus more for chicken
  • 1 28 oz can whole peeled plum tomatoes in puree, undrained
  • 1/8 c minced fresh basil leaves
  • 1 – 1/2 split chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For serving:

  • Chopped onions, corn chips, grated cheddar, sour cream  (beans optional)

Directions

Chicken Breasts:  (I do these first)Rub the chicken breasts with olive oil and place them on a baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast the chicken for 35 to 40 minutes, (45 at altitude) until just cooked. Let cool slightly. Separate the meat from the bones and skin and cut it into 3/4-inch chunks. 

Meanwhile, begin the chili:

Cook the onions in the oil over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, cayenne, and salt. Cook for 1 minute. Crush the tomatoes by hand or in batches in a food processor fitted with a steel blade (pulse 6 to 8 times). Add to the pot with the basil. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Taste and adjust seasonings. Add baked chicken and simmer another 10 minutes or so.  Serve hot and, if you choose, with beans or toppings listed above.  Let leftovers cool completely before covering well and storing in the refrigerator for 1-2 days only.

Cook’s notes:  If you’re cooking gluten free, check the canned tomatoes and the chili powder for an ingredients list or make your own: chili powder.   If using canned beans, the same is true; check your labels or make your beans from a trusted source from scratch.

WINE:  My friend Drew Robinson has convinced me that a Syrah (all Syrah–not a blend) drinks well with something like chili.  Many folks like a barely sweet-laced beer.

DESSERT:  You’ve been so good eating a light chili, I think something warmly chocolate would be lovely.  Cinnamon chocolate chip cookies or chocolate-cayenne dipped butter cookies.  Maybe just a cup of Mexican hot chocolate topped off with a splash of Kahlua?  
                                                                         ***
                                                       
Check out Ina’s whole recipe on the Food Network site here.
Watch the video of Ina making this chili here.
                                                           ~~~~~~~~~~

Who’dve thought of looking in a party book for recipes for one or two beautiful people like you?  Never know.

ALL ABOUT INA FRIDAYS:
The first Friday of the month, food bloggers from many parts of the world join together in posting a favorite Ina recipe.  This month we have Main Courses; next month we’re cooking Dessert! 

Stop in and see what all of our fine writers are cooking up today or any day:

*Not all writers will blog Ina every week–there’s work, vacation, family–but take a peek anyway. Some bloggers will post the following day due to time change or work/family commitments.

Are you a food blogger? We’d love to have you every month or even once in a while! Email Alyce @ afmorgan53@yahoo.com to join the group or link in to join us occasionally (click on blue oval link button at bottom and follow prompts) only if you’re blogging Ina! No other posts, please?! 

                                              If you like this, you might like…

Alyce’s Pumpkin-Chicken Chili

Have fun cooking and taking care of yourself, and if you have time, listen up to a young singer named Jeremy Anderson. You can download his music here.  Guy does all his own tracks…sometimes 12.  On itunes, too.

Alyce — Back in Colorado with 300 boxes, no ipad cord, and a computer that is crashing daily
 ( portions published previously on my blog dinnerplace.blogspot.com)