Kick-Butt Chicken Chili

Serves 8-10.

Since all the spices go in at the same time, I like to measure them into one bowl before I start cooking. You can use any beer you like, just be prepared to drink the rest after you put some in the chili! We used leftover roast chicken, but you can use whatever cooked poultry you like. If you have the chicken bones on hand, add them to the pot as well.

2 slices thick bacon
1 large onion, diced
2 large celery stalks, diced
2 large carrots, diced
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
4 large cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons tomato paste
¼ cup chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano, preferably Mexican
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
¾ teaspoon cayenne
2 bay leaves
1 cup beer
1 pound frozen sweet corn
1 ½ pounds (about 3 cups) cooked chicken, shredded or chopped (plus the bones, if you have them)
1 cup chicken broth
2 cans (28 ounces each) whole tomatoes
2 – 3 cups cooked black beans, drained
Optional garnish: chopped cilantro, lime wedges, grated cheddar cheese, and sour cream

Fry bacon in a Dutch oven or large soup kettle over low heat, flipping occasionally, until fat has rendered and bacon is crisp. Remove, drain on a paper towel, chop, and set aside. There should be about 2-3 tablespoons of fat in the pot, if not, add olive oil to make up the difference.

Increase the heat to medium-high and add onions, celery, and carrots; sauté, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper, until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and tomato paste, stir to coat, and continue to cook until the garlic is fragrant, about another minute. Add all the spices and the bay leaves; stir to combine and cook another minute. Add the beer, corn, bacon, and chicken; continue stirring until well mixed. Add broth and tomatoes, breaking up tomatoes with the blunt end of a wooden spoon.

Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low and continue simmering, partially covered, until flavors have mingled and the chili is the consistency of a thick stew, 30 to 40 minutes. If you’ve put bones in, remove them now. Add beans and continue simmering until you’ve reached your desired consistency (don’t simmer too long after adding the beans or they will fall apart). Discard the bay leaves, taste the chili, and season with more salt, pepper, and spices if necessary. Serve hot with desired toppings.

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