For me, retail therapy comes in the form of meandering the isles of the grocery store rescuing the unfashionable, unwanted, and unsightly foodstuffs from their inevitable and untimely dumpster demise. In short and (selfishly) in a case of textbook altruism, I totally love buying clearance food. As much about saving a buck as about the challenge of plugging culinary square-pegs into “round hole” meals, there is nothing like bargain chow. Give me your damaged, your passed-date, your misfit comestibles yeaning to be chili. Given that any given relationship isn’t nearly as much about love as it is about mutual convenience (or inconvenience, contingent upon mood and circumstance), one can endear any edible, if necessary. Today, I bought 3 pounds fresh of ”mixed soup vegetables” for a grand total of 99 cents.
½ lb Bacon
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into small cubes
2 lb mixed vegetables, diced*
½ C flour
2 T chili powder
1 t paprika
1 t cumin
1 t garlic pepper seasoning
1 T diced dried New Mexican chilies
1 ½ T diced dried Guajillo chilies
3 C water
1 T chicken bullion
* This was 2/3 of my big 99 cent purchase (woo-who). I’d have used all 3 lbs, but the pot has limited capacity. Well, the pot’s capacity is far more limited than my self-perceived ability to be “creative” with chili, given there is such a quantifiable aptitude. Ah-hem. Anyhow, mixed vegetables consists of red potatoes, carrots, celery, and onions.
- Fry bacon in a pot until fully cooked.
- Remove bacon from pan and ALL BUT ¼ C of bacon grease. Keep ¼ C of bacon grease in the pot.
- Fry chicken in bacon grease until nearly fully cooked.
- Mix flour and seasonings.
- In a bowl, coat the mixed vegetables with seasoned flour.
- Add flour-coated vegetables and diced chilies to the frying chicken.
- Fry contents of the pot for 10 minutes, mixing frequently.
- Add water and bullion and simmer 1.5-2.5 hours on low.
- Dice and add the bacon to the pot.
- Serve with buttered, toasted Italian bread.
This recipe absolutely nailed it. The guest ITP (in-laws from way up north) knew it. The kids (the regular Involuntary Taste Panel) knew it. Mrs. Chili365, in all of her perceived mutual conveniences, knew it. Rich, bacon-y, chili-y, and right-on. Homespun chicken stew chili was appropriately thick but by no means obtuse. Boom and wow and delicious. This recipe is easily in the top three (of 243). That’d be (comfortably) top 2%. Had I perchance added the remaining 33% of the bargain vegetables would we have a top 1% chili? We’d be grasping at the impossible should we venture a harried guess. The convenient reality is that the stew is most certainly edibly endearing.