Thursday, January 5, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Chili

Happy New Year!  I 2012 is off to a great start for you.  We kicked things off in style with some major festivities at our house.  I’m talking tinsel garlands, strands of beads and lots of confetti.  It was classy.  We also had enough food to feed twice the number of people actually at the party.  That seems to me to be just the right amount of food to ensure a nice supply of leftovers, which is key the day after a big party.

Food, drink and friends – what else do you need to ring in the New Year?  Nothing I can think of, except maybe some healthier food to balance out all of that end of the year excess.  And if that healthy food tastes so good you forget it’s good for you?  So much the better.  If you’re like me and you prefer to eat healthy food that doesn’t scream “I’m on a diet!”, you will love today’s recipe.  It has all of the flavor of Buffalo wings and none of the fat.  Actually, this Buffalo Chicken Chili has hardly any fat at all – a fact that I’ve kept secret from Stan since he views fat as one of the most important food groups in his daily diet.  He hasn’t noticed.  He loves this stuff.

Despite its New Year’s resolution friendliness, this chili rocks.  The chicken makes it filling and the little pieces of carrot and celery running through it echo the carrot and celery sticks typically served alongside a basket of wings.  For those of you who aren’t into spicy food, don’t be scared by the amount of hot sauce going on here; it adds a great tang without too much heat.  For those of you who can’t get wings hot enough, add as much hot sauce as your poor stomach can handle.  Either way, top off your bowl with some (low-fat) sour cream, blue cheese crumbles, or whatever you like with your wings.  And don’t forget to smile, because you’ll be back in your skinny jeans in no time.  Unless you stick around to check out my upcoming New Year’s Eve posts… in which case you might want to stick with some comfy elastic waist sweatpants.  Whatever you wear, it’s going to be a tasty year.

Buffalo Chicken Chili
Adapted from Rachael Ray

2 T. olive oil (I used 1 T.)
2 lbs. ground chicken breast
2 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 ribs celery, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 T. smoked sweet paprika
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1/2 cup hot sauce (We love Frank’s)
15 oz. tomato sauce
15 oz. diced, fire roasted, crushed or stewed tomatoes

Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, breaking it up, for 5 minutes.

Add the carrots, onion, celery, garlic, paprika, bay leaf, and salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for 7 to 8 minutes.

Add the chicken stock and scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pot. Add the hot sauce, tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes. Bring the chili to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for at least 10 minutes or longer to combine the flavors.

Serve with your favorite toppings – sour cream, blue cheese crumbles, whatever you like with your Buffalo wings!

Serves 6.

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