Thursday, October 28, 2010

Homemade Chicken Chili, Better Than Store Bought Chili

It all started with a container of store-bought chili.  Particularly terrible store-bought chili where the beans were particularly hard and the meat particularly spongy.  See, last week I was at the grocery store shamelessly eating the soup samples.  What?  Don't act like you've never eaten twelve of those little plastic cups filled with everything from chicken noodle to tortilla soup.  See, I have a ritual.  I go to the grocery store and head straight for the deli where I ladle myself a little plastic cup (ok, a couple of little plastic cups) of soup and contemplate my purchases.   The soup loading gives me the patience to deal with the diva-like women that shop at my grocery store.  I mean really, rhinestone studded track pants and sunglasses inside the grocery store?  It's like a bad episode of the Real Housewives of (insert your city here) except that I'm not being paid to be a part of it!

So there I am, eating my soup sample and wondering if a thirteenth cup would be too excessive, even for me, when a cute old lady rolls on up in her little motorized buggy and says, "Are you getting the chili?  Isn't the chili great?"  I nod noncommittally but the old lady is undeterred.  She sprightly hops out of her buggy and ladles me a giant CONTAINER of chili.  "That'll be perfect for dinner," she says and rolls off.  Is this my grocery store's new marketing tactic?  To guilt people into buying stuff?  Because really, the old woman's shock and awe marketing was surprisingly effective because I ended up buying that ridiculously huge container of chili.

And later, I ended up throwing out a ridiculously huge container of chili.  Because it.  Was.  Terrible.  I tried to serve it for dinner but after one bite, the hubster refused to eat any more.  I busted out the cheese and sour cream hoping to mask the chili with toppings but even toppings couldn't help this chili.  It was that bad.  I guess it's the grocery store's way for getting me back for eating all their soup samples.

So the next day, I made a real chili.  I know, I know.  There is no such thing as real chili.  Some people add beans, some think beans in chili are the work of the devil (or of evil old ladies on buggies in the grocery store).  Some swear it has to have beef.  Some think ground beef is the answer.  Bottom line is, it doesn't really matter what you put into your chili so long as you season it well and cook it so the flavors meld.  My personal favorite is a chicken chili I swiped from Gourmet magazine a while ago.  There are a couple of elements that make this chili unique.  It uses dry-roasted peanuts as a thickener.  I also add some diced jalapenos for heat but you can easily take them out if you don't like your chili spicy (or add more if you like it super spicy).  Oh, and once it goes in the pot, it cooks itself while you bask in the delicious smell.

Alongside the chili, I made some gougéres because Jean, of the fabulous blog Lemons and Anchovies, made some recently and they looked so darn good!  I swapped out her gruyere and anchovy fillets for sharp cheddar and cracked black pepper because I think the hubster would have refused to eat if I fed him the disastrous store bought chili and anchovies in one week.

The meal was exactly what we needed.  Warm and comforting on a cold and rainy day.  Oh, and I'm on to you, old lady in the buggy.  There is no way I'm buying your store bought chili again.  But I'll continue eating the soup samples.

Chicken Chili

1 1/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (10 fluid ounces)
1 (14- to 15-ounce) can stewed tomatoes
1 (3/4-inch-thick) crosswise slice of a medium white onion
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1-2 jalapenos, diced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup dry-roasted peanuts
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 chicken breasts, cubed
1 (15-ounce) can beans (I used kidney because that's all I had on hand)
Garnish: chopped fresh cilantro; sour cream

Purée broth, tomatoes with their juice, jalapenos, onion, garlic, cilantro, peanuts, cumin, and salt in a blender until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Cook chicken in a separate pan.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Heat oil in a wide 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then pour in sauce.  Add beans and chicken and boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally.  Cook chili for 30-45 minutes, adding more stock to thin if necessary.


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup water
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 eggs
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Cracked pepper and salt, to taste

Preheat your oven to 400ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

For the choux pastry, sift the flour into a bowl and set aside. Pour water into a medium saucepan, add butter and bring to a boil. Stir to make sure the butter has melted before the mixture comes to a boil.

Reduce your heat to medium and add the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until the flour stops clinging to the sides of the pan and starts to form a ball around the spatula. This will take 30-40 seconds. The goal is also to evaporate as much water as possible without scorching the pastry. Remove from heat, transfer the pastry to another bowl and allow to cool for three minutes.

Add the eggs one at a time to the pastry. Stir the mixture until the egg has blended completely with the pastry before adding the next one.

Fold the cheese, garlic, salt and pepper into the pastry. Use two spoons to form about 1 1/4 inch round balls and drop on the parchment-lined baking sheet. You will get between 25-30 puffs.

Bake the puffs for about twenty minutes or until golden brown. Turn off the heat and leave the oven door ajar for 5-10 minutes to finish the puffs. This will help to avoid soft puffs.

Chili adapted from Gourmet magazine (via Epicurious). Gougéres adapted from Lemons and Anchovies.


  1. Looks great! We had chicken chili last night. I love a nice homecooked chili. Much better than store bought!

  2. That looks so good - I love chili and am going to have to try out this recipe ASAP! :)

  3. You had me at dry-roasted peanuts.
    Also, store-bought chili is an abomination. I don't care if the cutest little old lady in the world told me kittens would die if I didn't buy a container, I still wouldn't be caught dead paying for the stuff. I'm just mean and cold-hearted like that. :)

  4. keke I don't get women who get all dolled up for the grocery store. At least the woman who wore Loubs is out of the picture but now comes the a slew of other fashionistas, makes for some fun commentary, Anywho, your chili sounds fantabulous.

  5. Those darn ladies on their scooters, what do they know anyways! He He You are making me laugh this morning. That chili does sound good!

  6. Oh yes... so much better than store bought! I have a friend who raves about the soup at one of our local market and brought me a big container when I wasn't feeling well. Wonderful thought and a wonderful friend. However... the chicken noodle was basically Salt Soup with bits of chicken and noodle. I think there was one quarter of a slice of carrot as well. Blech! I threw it away and felt extraordinarily guilty later when she called to see if the soup helped my cold.
    Your chili looks great! A wonderful replacement and a recipe that should maybe be subtly shared with the store??
    Nicely done!

  7. Your title made me smile because I HATE store-bought chili. So in my mind, it wouldn't take much to be "better than". But this sounds truly amazing!

    Oh~ also had to laugh about the ladies in the grocery store! We definitely don't have that issue in crunchy Asheville!

  8. It's true, virtually anything can go into a chili if it's done properly. Good for you to get your vengeance on the grocery store, looks great!

  9. i think whatever u cook at home is always better and healthier than store bought..

  10. Peanuts in chicken chili! I love it! Pure genius!

  11. Chili + gougeres = YAY!! This looks wonderful. Now if that chill would just come back to the air... :)


  12. wait...I thought you left Dallas.... ;-p

  13. I may or may not embarrass my husband every time we go to a store and samples are available--I get a lot of "Really? Did you have to eat that sample?" from him, but I don't care. The samples, THEY WILL BE MINE. :) You're not alone!

    This chili sounds and looks great!

  14. You had me really giggling over here, I wanted to pass on a lovely blog award to you! Have a great day! Come see me if you want it!

  15. You crack me up. I can't believe that you're in a new town and are already diving into their deli dept. Can't you at least wait until they know you?

    The chili does look fantastic. I think we'll stick to beef (only use the chicken in my white version), but i like the rest of it a lot.

  16. LOL - wonderful story! Your chili sounds amazing with the peanuts... Kate@kateiscooking

  17. I have yet to find a decent soup at the grocery store! One that doesn't contain 50 ingredients I don't recognize and one that doesn't have 95% of my daily sodium. Cooking your own is a much better option! And peanuts sound like a brilliant addition!

  18. oh your chili sounds delicious! ha, I love that that happened in the grocery store! I wish i could sample all the soups here - I'd go there during lunch time everyday :)

  19. chilly is a great comfort food on winter days. i miss my life before i was married sometimes....when i used to come home from a long day at school and got my food ready, most wintry days it was a hot chilly made by mom....ahhh i have to make my own good thing we love to cook!

    your chilly looks delicious and are those home made biscuits?

  20. Never had chili with peanuts- sounds good! Definitely better than store bought. :)

  21. I like the chicken in your chili and Jean's gougeres make a wonderful meal, In defense of sunglasses in the grocery store, some people wear prescription sunglasses so they keep them on- as for the rhinestones- I'll have to get back to you on that one:)

  22. Oh my gosh, I was reading, enjoying your chili story and then I read that you tried the gougeres! I would have loved a huge bowl of your chili and the sharp cheddar gougeres--sounds like a great combo. :-)

    Thanks so much for the mention and I look forward to meeting you next week. :-)

  23. I guess I could eat 12 BIG containers of these!!

  24. I love a good chili, and this one definitely sounds great. I've never tried chili with chicken before though. I'll have to bookmark this one for the next time I make chili. Thanks for the recipe, Azmina.

  25. This sounds scrumptious! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe!

  26. Looks like you could open up your own soup/chili shop...Yours is gorgeous!

  27. Can you believe I've never made chili myself? CRAZY! I need to change that asap.

  28. this is making me very hungry.. i love this dish. thank you for sharing.

  29. I made the mistake of storebought chili once when I had nothing to eat at work, and it tasted like it was poached in cheap butter substitute. I'm intrigued by the idea of peanuts in chicken chili!

  30. Ohh i like how it isn't even ground chicken. I'm going to have to set this aside for when winter decides to grace us.

  31. Gosh I love chili (although not when old ladies peddle it), and I have a chicken barley chili recipe that I love to make in the winter. Mm... such comfort food. :) Great recipe Azmina!

  32. Loved your accounting of your market experience, so cleverly narrated. It sounds like my local Whole Foods (Boca Raton, FL)

  33. Wait, is that a Parmesan crisp I see in your chili bowl? If so, what a tasty addition!
    The chili with peanuts sounds intriguing; I'll have to try it. And just a word of advice...I avoid any grocery store where I feel under-dressed. K

  34. Azmina, I hope you're settling into the Bay Area. Seems like you've found your kitchen supplies and are back into cooking. Not surprising. Chili is great for these cool rainy days.

  35. I adore making homemade chili...especially as the days gets shorter and colder! I have had a few bad store-bought experiences now I bypass the canned chili aisle entirely. Thank you for sharing...and I too have been wanting to try those gougeres out. Have a great weekend!

  36. it even LOOKS ten billion times better.. no re-heat required..or squished frozen mess!! <3


  37. This chili sounds utterly fabulous. We're on a soup/chili kick right now so this will have to make it in the rotation!

  38. Oh wow this looks good. Sounds wonderful!

  39. Love chili! This looks and sounds great!!

    Great blog!

    Mary xo
    Delightful Bitefuls

  40. You know I'm not a great cook but I'm totally convinced these are better than the store bought. I will follow your recipe and try to emulate you now.
    In the meantime, there is an award waiting for you in my latest post!

  41. I suppose chili is not a desi food item because I have never had any...

  42. I am bookmarking it. I avoid chili because it contains red meat. Chicken chili with those Gougéres looks hearty and inviting. can't wait to try this. *drool*

  43. Pssh, I've never had store-bought chili. *air of superiority* ;)

    I've yet to have chicken chili, though! It's usually either beans or beef. This looks deliiicious. I'm fascinated by the addition of peanuts - I don't think I've ever seen them in a chili recipe before! And beans rule; anyone who dislikes them is, uhm, prejudiced?

    Oh, and I always eat the soup samples at the store. It's free food; what kind of crazy person turns that down? No one ever guilted me into buying any, though. :P

    PS - I approve of your cheddary gougéres. I approve very much.

  44. Hmmm... chicken mince chili? Well at least is has beans LOL! Seriously though, this chili looks really interesting, I will have to give it a try. I love the peanuts as a thickener!

  45. Oh, this sounds amazing, please let me know what time I should arrive for dinner daaaaaaahling! I'll be there!
    *kisses* HH

  46. When I was in college my roommate and I would still soup samples from our dining hall. The soups were usually super rich and creamy so you couldn't eat a whole bowl anyway...but that one tiny cup satisfied a whole lot of cravings. This chili sounds awesome. In the end...I think it's YOU who got back at THEM.

  47. You always seem to have an interesting grocery store experience! The old woman sounded better than the evil woman in stilettos though!

    Dry roasted peanuts...very unique. I'll have to give that a try!

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  49. When even the husband won't eat it, you know it's not good. My husband will eat just about anything but if there's something he doesn't like or it's downright awful, he'd rather toss it. And he HATES wasting food.

    Nowadays I won't touched canned/store bought chili even if you paid me. Give me home cooked or I'm not going to eat it. This chicken chili looks absolutely splendid for this time of year. May have to try that in the near future.

    As for those divas, that's just funny. At the grocery store across the street from my place people look like they just rolled out of bed. Haven't they heard of a mirror? I make it a point to race in and out of that store. LOL

  50. I tried for years to make a good chili. Most of my attempts came out like chili soup! I finally made this chili and I am saved at football get togethers - its always a big hit.

    I use chicken breasts too, but I grind them in my food processor - ground chicken breasts in the grocery store give me the heeby jeebies - never know "exactly" what's in it!

    And the best part is my husband can actually eat this - I usually put too much hot shit for his taste, but this is good for a crowd.

  51. Wow - this chili looks great and definitely something which I think I will have to try. Your post also made me a little jealous of all the free food tastings that they have in America - they don't really have that here in Australia :( It makes me sad!

    I'd love you to take a look at my blog ( and give me a few tips on photography. And how to create perfect 'American' Mexican!

  52. I just made a turkey chili a week or so ago. I always pair chili with corn bread, so old school. The gougeres look hard core! I've been wanting to try making choux for some time now but I've never really got around to it. This really inspires me to try it out finally , they look so tasty and cute.

  53. ohhhh i feel like gulping it down !!! yummm
    please visit n follow my blog if you wish to @ !


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