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Chicken Chili Verde...The Leslie Way: Simple, Healthy, and Warm Your Bones Steamy

It's still hot as hell in Tampa, Florida. We're going on mid-October and everyone is still wearing shorts and sundresses. I can honestly say, I'm officially over this summertime heat. Enough already. And while the idea of pulling out my cute boots, scarves, and jackets is so appealing, I'm also yearning for some chilly weather cuisine. We're talking soups, stews, and most notably, chili. Chili is one of those dishes that I like to really experiment with. No set in stone, go-to recipe in my repertoire, I switch it up almost every time. Some nights I crave a burgundy wine and sirloin combo while other evenings I get a hankering for my Indian inspired Curry Chickpea Chili.

Last night, there was just the slightest chill in the air. It was probably 72 degrees outside come 8PM. Hey, us Floridians will take what we can get! Having read this "amazing" weather forecast the day before, I knew it was time to think about a chili I might make to celebrate our dramatic change in temperature.

I'm shamefully obsessed with Mexican food. It's diverse, it's often delectably melty with cheese, and it even has that comfort food quality about it. Between my palate's slightly frightening tolerance for extremely spicy foods and my passion for aromatic spices and herbs, Mexican food pretty much always hits the spot. If you read my blog regularly then you also probably know that salsa verde kinda has the whammy on me. I don't know what it is...but the green stuff is just so much more exciting than the standard red varieties. I was craving that green stuff yesterday but I so badly wanted to make chili. Sometimes, two ideas fuse together so perfectly, you just know it was meant to be.


Chili Verde is an authentic cantina style of stew (or chili if you will) typically made with pork butt and sans the beans. It's also known for its roasted tomatillos, poblanos and jalapenos, cilantro, and touch of cinnamon or cloves. Well, I decided to revamp this traditional recipe and do it my way...because that's just how I roll. I had boneless, skinless chicken breasts and thighs in my fridge so I knew I'd substitute the pork for the bird. Good thing too, because it would've taken the pork much longer to become fall apart tender like my chicken did. I also decided to throw in some beans...just half a can of pintos. With a touch of cinnamon and lots of garlic and cumin, this recipe came out just divine. Thank goodness we have leftovers. Feel free to half the recipe...this one makes enough for about 6 hefty bowls.

Chicken Chili Verde


2 lb. chicken (breasts and thighs)

2 large or 3 medium poblano peppers

2 jalapenos

5 medium sized tomatillos (or more if you get small ones)

1/2 can organic pinto beans, drained

2 cups chicken broth

4 tablespoons EVOO

1 large bunch cilantro, plus extra for garnish

6 cloves fresh garlic, minced

1 tablespoon chili powder

4 tablespoons cumin

1 tablespoon white pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons salt

1 teaspoon pepper

3 teapsoons cinnamon

Sour cream, avocado, and cheese for topping (optional)


1. Turn your oven's broiler on high. Put your tomatillos, poblanos, and jalapenos in a large casserole dish or baking pan and brush with a light coating of EVOO. Place in the oven on the middle rack and in about 7-10 minutes, check to see if there's a slight char on the veggies. Keep checking every few minutes after until there's a char. Then, using tongs, flip over the peppers and tomatillos and let the other side char. (I had to flip some before others)

2. When all of your veggies are charred, take out of the oven and set aside. Now, heat a dutch oven or large soup pot to medium high heat with 2 tablespoons EVOO. Cut your chicken into bite size chunks and season with salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon cumin. When it's heated, begin browning your chicken. Be careful not to overcrowd the pot. If your pot isn't big enough, you can brown half the chicken at a time.

3. Once chicken is browned on all sides, add the chicken broth and turn heat down to low. If you cooked your chicken in batches, add the rest of the chicken back into the pan at this time. Add 3 tablespoons cumin, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 3 teaspoons cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon white pepper. Stir and let simmer.

4. While chicken is cooking, remove the skins from the poblanos. You can do this with your hands. Then, drop all the roasted tomatillos and only one poblano and one jalapeno into your blender or food processor. Also add 1 bunch of cilantro and 2 tablespoons EVOO and minced garlic. Blend until smooth.

5. After the chicken has been cooking in the broth for about 30 minutes, add the green stuff from the blender (salsa verde). Chop the other poblano and jalapeno (discarding jalapeno seeds if you want) and add to the pot. Also add 1/2 can of pinto beans at this time.

6. Stir and turn up to medium heat, allowing all of the ingredients to "meld" together for about 10 minutes. Turn down to low and do a seasoning "taste test." Add more salt and/or cumin at this time. 

7. Let your chili cook on low for another 25 minutes or until you can't take it any longer :) Top with cilantro, sliced avocado, cheese (i'd go with Cojita or Pepper jack) and sour cream if you wish. Enjoy.

While this recipe is no 30 minute meal, it does allow you to leave the kitchen quite a bit. The chicken can slowly cook without a watchful eye for 30 minutes and once all chili ingredients are in the pot, you can walk away for a while too. Extremely flavorful and different from your traditional Texas red chili, it's definitely a crowd pleaser. 


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