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Spiced Roasted Chicken and Cranberry Bean Chili

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Serves 6-8

Yields about 11 cups

  • by Ana Sortun from Fine Cooking
    Issue 113

This chilil, from chef Ana Sortun, begins with a chicken roasted with baharat, an aromatic, Middle Eastern spice blend that you can easily make at home.

For the spice mix (baharat)
  • 4 tsp. dried mint
  • 1 Tbs. dried oregano
  • 5 bay leaves, roughly torn
  • 2 tsp. whole allspice berries
  • 2 tsp. yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp. green cardamom pods, cracked, black seeds removed and pods discarded
  • 1 tsp. whole cloves
  • 4 tsp. finely ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
For the chili
  • 1-1/2 cups dried cranberry or small white beans
  • 1 3-lb. chicken
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium green or red bell peppers, halved, cored, and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. pure ancho chile powder
  • 4 cups canned chopped tomatoes
  • 1 quart lower-salt chicken broth
  • 1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp. dried mint
Make the spice mix

Put the mint and oregano in a fine sieve set over a medium bowl. Rub the herbs against the sieve to crush them into a fine powder. In a spice grinder, grind the bay leaves, allspice, mustard seeds, cardamom seeds, and cloves to a powder and add them to the herb powder. Stir in the black pepper, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, nutmeg, and ginger. Set 1/4 cup of the baharat aside. (Save the rest for another use).

Make the chili

Put the beans in a large bowl, cover with water, and soak for 6 to 8 hours. Drain the beans, put them in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot, and add enough cold water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, lower the heat to a gentle simmer, cover partially, and cook until tender, 1 to 2 hours. Drain the beans in a colander and set aside.

While the beans cook, roast the chicken: Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Rinse and pat the chicken dry with paper towels. In a small bowl, combine 2 Tbs. of the baharat with 2 tsp. salt. Rub the spice mixture all over the chicken and then coat the chicken with 2 Tbs. of the oil. Put the chicken in a small roasting pan or large ovenproof skillet, and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh registers 170°F, 45 to 50 minutes. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove all the meat and shred into bite-size pieces. Discard the skin and bones.

Heat 2 Tbs. of the olive oil in a 5- to 6-quart pot over medium heat. Add the onion, reduce the heat to medium low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic 1 minute. Stir in the bell peppers, ancho chile powder, 2 Tbs. of the baharat, and 1 Tbs. salt. Increase the heat to medium and cook until the peppers are soft, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 30 minutes

Stir the chicken broth, chicken meat, and beans into the chili and continue to simmer for 20 minutes to meld the flavors. Season to taste with more salt, if necessary.

In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt, dried mint, remaining 2 tsp. olive oil, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Serve the chili topped with a dollop of the seasoned yogurt.

Make Ahead Tips

The baharat can be made well ahead; store it in an airtight container in a cool, dark, dry place for up to 3 months.

You can also make the chili up to 4 days before serving; store it airtight in the refrigerator and reheat gently before serving.

Serving Suggestions

Serve this chili with warm pitas instead of the usual tortilla chips or corn bread. And grab your skillet to make an easy Apple-Pear Cobbler with Crisp Brown Sugar-Pecan Topping for dessert.
 

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 420; Fat (g): 13; Fat Calories (kcal): 120; Saturated Fat (g): 3; Protein (g): 43; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 7; Carbohydrates (g): 34; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2; Sodium (mg): 1060; Cholesterol (mg): 80; Fiber (g): 12;

Photo: Scott Phillips

Excellent! The flavors melded very well, it was not soupy with the amount of ingredients and I suspect that the leftovers will get better with age. I was short on time so I used a grocery-bought roasted chicken and couldn't find plain Greek yogurt so I substituted whole-milk ricotta for the topping and white kidney beans. This recipe makes excellent use of the baharat.

I love each of the spices that are used in this spice blend individually, so I anticipated liking all of them together, but that wasn't the case here. Somehow they didn't meld, and while the recipe hints at a richly spiced dish, it was somewhat bland. Some of that can be attributed to the tomato being so predominant so perhaps cutting that down would help. I loved the tenderness of the chicken thighs and will keep this method in mind when putting together "one pot" dishes in the future. If you make this dish, think about adding the tomato in stages to taste, and do so with the chicken stock as well since it will be pretty soupy if you add it all. Note it also is a big volume of food, more than 6-8 servings if you serve over rice.

This recipe is pretty easy and absolutely delicious! With just my husband and myself to feed, I froze a good portion of this but I might as well have left it out because we devoured the remaining left overs! I personally did not care for the yogurt but my husband loved it.

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