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Southwestern Spiced Chicken & Black Bean Stew

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Serves four to six.

  • To learn more, read:
    Shortcut Chicken Stews
  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 56

It's well worth the effort to find a dried chipotle, which gives the broth a wonderful smoky spice. To make fried tortilla strips, cut corn or flour tortillas into long strips and fry in 350°F oil until they start to brown, about 2 minutes.

  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 thick slices bacon
  • 6 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs (about 2-1/4 lb.), large pieces of fat trimmed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely diced
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 3/4 cup beer
  • 1 can (15-1/2 oz.) black beans, rinsed (about 2 cups)
  • 1 dried chipotle (optional)
  • 2 cups homemade or low-salt canned chicken broth; more if needed
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 lime
  • Sour cream for garnish
  • Fried tortilla strips (optional)

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until it renders much of its fat and crisps slightly, about 7 min. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels. Season the chicken well with salt and pepper. Add half of the thighs to the pan and brown them well on both sides, 2 to 3 min. per side. Transfer to a plate. Brown the remaining thighs and reserve with the rest.

There should be 2 to 3 Tbs. fat left in the pan; if there's more, spoon out and discard the excess. Add the onion and bell pepper, season well with salt, and cook, stirring often, until the onion softens and caramelizes slightly, about 7 min. Raise the heat to high, add the chili powder and cumin, and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the beer and cook until it's almost completely reduced, about 3 min. Add the beans, the chipotle (if using), and the chicken broth. When the mixture comes to a boil, adjust the heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 5 min. Transfer 2 cups of the beans and broth (but not the chipotle) to a blender, purée, and then mix it back into the rest of the broth.

Return the thighs to the pot, cover with the lid slightly ajar, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through (check by slicing through the bottom of one of the thighs to the bone), about 30 min. If the stew is too thick, thin it with more chicken broth. Discard the chipotle. Crumble the reserved bacon. Juice one half of the lime; cut the other half into wedges. Stir the bacon, lime juice, and 2 Tbs. of the cilantro into the stew and season well with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, ladling some of the beans and chicken into each bowl. Sprinkle each serving with the remaining cilantro and a small dollop of sour cream. Serve with the lime wedges and fried tortilla strips, if you like.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on six servings; Calories (kcal): 350; Fat (g): fat g 20; Fat Calories (kcal): 180; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 6; Protein (g): protein g 22; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 10; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 20; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 3; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 390; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 70; Fiber (g): fiber g 6;

Photo: Scott Phillips

Very good and I would make it again as a nice substitute to chili. Like others, I used a can of chipotles in adobo in place of the dried chilies and I used 1 whole boneless skinless breast instead of thighs. After browning the breast, I shredded it in the food processor. I'm trying the Mediterranean diet so I removed the bacon. We never missed it and given the recipe's richness, I think I would have preferred it without. I tried substituting low fat Greek yogurt for the sour cream, and thought it was actually better than the sour cream my husband used. The sour cream was richer, but the yogurt added a slight tartness that complimented the smoky, spicy dish. I live in a warm climate and eat a lot of spicy foods. The spice level was good for me, but the chipotles in adobo might be very spicy for some folks. If you are unsure, use half the can. I also used just 1cup of broth because I liked the thicker consistency. And I served it with the yougurt or sour cream and a scoop of pico de gallo. I made cole slaw with salsa-yogurt sauce as a side dish, and the crisp, cold, creamy slaw was a great pairing.

I saw this recipe in our local newspaper and printed out a couple of weeks ago. Finally made it last night using boneless skinless chicken thighs and canned chipotle in adobo sauce in place of the bone-in skinless thighs and a dried chipotle and it was delicious. I shared it with my neighbors and they raved about it and can't wait for me to make it again. Great cold weather food.

UPDATED REVIEW 4/9/2013 I'm still making this for my family. Now, I often make it as chili. I double all the ingredients except the chicken. For the chicken, I use 2-2 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless thighs, then shred the meat after browning. This has become a staple in our house, and is often requested. It is easy to make and so flavorful. If you cannot find a dried chipotle chile, I found McCormack's makes a chipotle chile powder, and I start with about 1/2 tsp. I've also use a combo of chipotle and ancho chile powder. I've used boneless chicken breasts when I've been out of thighs. I, too, use 2 cans of beans and some extra broth.

This was delicious! I followed the other reviewers' suggestions: added a can of beans and minced a few chipotle chiles from a can of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce in place of the dried chile. I also used boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into strips in place of the whole thighs, and it worked well. I think that I'll try using chicken breasts next time to make the recipe even healthier, although the thighs were tasty.

Great smoky flavor. If I'd been alone, I might have licked my bowl! In our small town, dried chipotle are a far-a-way dream...so I added a finely minced chipotle in adobo sauce. As suggested by other reviewers, I did add the second can of black beans. The only thing I might change next time, adding a couple more chicken thighs; the amount of "sauce" could support them.

Very flavorful....I've used all thighs or half thighs/half chicken breasts (cut in half) and both ways it was delicious. A keeper!

This was very tasty and satisfying. I would have given this five stars if I hadn't tweaked it a bit. I used bone-in chicken breasts and simmered over low heat for about 1 hour and 45 minutes. When the meat was falling-off-the-bone tender, I removed it from the stew, shredded it, then tossed it back in. I could not find dried chipotle chilies so I used a canned chipotle chili that was packed in adobe sauce...I don't think the stew was missing anything because of this. Also, I think the stew could have used a few extra beans, so I will use 2 cans of beans the next time rather than one. I can't wait to have the left overs for lunch today!

Lots of friends and family asked for this recipe. It can be made ahead, and actually improves as the flavors blend together. A squeeze of fresh lime is a great way to finish off this dish.

This recipe was only OK for me. Really, the flavors were good. I'm just not a fan of chicken thighs, so it was more of a personal thing.

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