Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sweet Potato & Chicken Chili

I'm a huge fan of my slow cooker.  If you don't have one, get one.  My Rival Crock Pot was a gift from my mother when I was in college and I think my initial thought "what the heck do I do with this?", but the thing is still going strong ten years later (it pains me to write that).  Seriously though, if you live an active lifestyle, and lets face it - most of us don't have 4-5 hours to watch a pot on the stove - a slow cooker is an invaluable tool.  Today, James and I went snowboarding and were able to come home to a fantastic dinner with no fuss.

On a quick side note, slow cooker liners are among the greatest inventions ever.  Think about how much food gets baked onto the stoneware pot inside over 7+ hours of cooking.  The liner makes clean up incredibly easy.  A box of six costs under $2.50 and I consider it a great time saving investment.  

Tonight's chili was not only delicious, but incredibly health conscious.   About a cup and a half serving clocks in under 200 calories, leaving you a little leeway to add some tortilla chips for texture.  Also with ten grams of protein and four grams of fiber, you can feel good about what you're eating.  

There's also a lot of flexibility with the recipe.  You can substitute ground beef or turkey (just remember to adjust your nutrition information).  I've also made it before with black beans and vegetable stock in lieu of chicken for a vegetarian option.  The measurements of spices in the recipe are also geared toward a slightly spicier chili, you can adjust to fit your taste.  

This is also a great leftovers recipe.  I think the flavors in chili get better over the second or third day.  The follow recipe yields about 10 servings.  

Sweet Potato Chicken Chili

1 small yellow onion
1 shallot
6 cloves of garlic
1/2 jalapeño 
1/2 tablespoon olive oil 
1 pound ground chicken 
2 medium sized sweet potatoes
6 plum tomatoes or 2 large tomatoes (go with whichever option looks fresher at the market)
1 can diced tomatoes (if San Marzanos are an option, I highly recommend them) 
1/2 cup quinoa 
1 12 oz bottle of ale or wheat beer 
1 cup chicken stock 
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar 
1/4 cup torn cilantro leaves 
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons Adobo seasoning 
3 tablespoons dried chipotle seasoning
2 tablespoons dried ancho chili powder
2 tablespoons epazote seasoning 
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon coriander
a few dashes of tabasco sauce (optional, to taste)
plain nonfat Greek yogurt (to garnish)
diced avocado (to garnish)
fresh cilantro sprigs (to garnish) 

- In a large skillet, heat your olive oil 
- Add diced onion, shallot, garlic and jalapeño and sauté for about 10 minutes or until the onions become translucent
- Add the chicken and cook for an additional 8-10 minutes or until the chicken browns
- Add salt, pepper and seasonings (this is your seasoning for the whole pot of chili, so I don't recommend tasting it at this point)
- Dice sweet potatoes, plum tomatoes, quinoa and cilantro and layer into your slow cooker
- Add chicken mixture to the slow cooker
- Pour canned tomatoes, beer, chicken stock and sherry vinegar into the slow cooker 
- Stir the ingredients gently to incorporate everything
- Cook on high for 7 hours or on low for 10 hours
- Adjust spices and salt to your taste
- Add tabasco sauce, if desired and garnish each serving with a dollop of Greek yogurt, a few chunks of diced avocado and a fresh cilantro sprig 

If you're looking for a fantastic tortilla chip to compliment your chili, try Xochitl Totopos de Maiz (that's pronounced so cheel if you're asking for them).  They're lightly salty and incredibly thin, which can be hard to find it a store-bought chip.  

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