Friday, August 9, 2013

Italian Chicken Chili

Before I share the recipe, I want to start off and say that I feel sort of guilty making a recipe called, "Italian Chicken Chili."  It just seems wrong.  Chili is a Tex-Mex dish.  How can it be Italian?  Furthermore, how does one define "Italian"?  True Italian cuisine is region-specific.  Hot peppers are most commonly used in Abruzzo.  White beans are the domain of Tuscany.  Meat-and-tomato sauces are eponymously from Bologna.  What gave me the right to call this recipe Italian?

That's one of the issues with foodie culture, isn't it?  After a while a cook might feel wrong if he or she doesn't follow authenticity.  Besides, smushing together the dishes of two cultures often sounds lazy.  It's like saying, "I can't cook proper Italian food, so I'm just going to make chili and flavor it with stereotypical Italian-American seasonings."  It sounds like an easy way out.  It sounds like the back of the box.  It sounds like a Rachael Ray recipe.

The other way of looking at it is to just call it, "Fusion."  It's very foodie to do that.

My chili isn't a simple dump-and-stir chili.  I used all fresh ingredients, including making the tomato base from scratch with farm market tomatoes.  I would have prepared the beans myself from dried, but ended up with no time, so I did have to use canned.  Otherwise this chili is homemade, slow-cooked Heaven.  It's not as spicy as my typical chili, but it's very fresh tasting and summery.  That's very important since most of us associate chili with chilly fall and winter days.

Maybe I should have called it "Summer Chicken Chili."  In any case, this was surprisingly spicy, meaty (like I like it) and still fairly light.  It's a break from the heavy, super-spicy chili you might eat at the Super Bowl party.

I served it as is, but this would be nice over rice or short pasta.

Italian Chicken Chili


  • 6 large, ripe tomatoes
  • 2 Tbl olive oil
  • Pinch (or two) of red pepper flakes
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 long hot green peppers
  • 2 lbs ground chicken
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 15 oz can cannellini beans
  • 6 basil leaves, torn up a bit
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and fill a large bowl with ice water.  Score an x in each tomato and drop into boiling water.  Boil for two minutes and then drop the tomatoes into the ice water.  The skins should slip off easily.  Core and halve the tomatoes and squeeze out the seeds (I do this over a strainer set over a bowl so that the seeds are strained out, but I still have the juice).  Chop tomatoes (or just squish them into bits) and set aside.

In a large pot or large keep pan, heat olive oil over low heat.  Add onions and begin cooking until soft.  Add pepper flakes and oregano.  Keep cooking until onions are soft.  Add the chopped peppers.  When they begin to soften, add the garlic and cook another minute or two. 

Add the chicken to the pan and cook until no longer pink.

Add the tomatoes, bean, and basil.  Cook for at least another 30 minutes or up to an hour or two.

Serve over rice or pasta if desired.


Blond Duck said...

Looks good to me!

Sue said...

The minute you said "Italian", I thought of tomatoes, oregano and garlic, so that's the perfect name!