My earliest culinary roots are from growing up in Buffalo, NY. I’m sure that everyone is aware of Buffalo’s most famous export…the chicken wing. Well, there were other exports, too. In the ’70s there was a mass migration out of Buffalo to Phoenix, AZ. Who could blame people from wanting to escape the cold and snow to a sunnier climate?
I didn’t graduate from high school until the early ’80s so I would have to wait to make my escape. Although I didn’t move straight from Buffalo to Phoenix, ironically 25 years later would find me living around the corner from folks I grew up with.
Said folks were very creative in the kitchen and fabulous entertainers. Imagine my delight when I was invited to a chili cook-off. Although my chili didn’t win, I did walk away with this awesome recipe that evoked flavors and smells of my childhood.
- Olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 lbs chicken, cooked and diced*
- 2 garlic cloves chopped
- 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tbl Smoked Paprika – you have to use smoked paprika
- 12 oz beer – your favorite
- 1/4 to 1 cup cayenne pepper hot sauce (I use Frank’s) – season to your liking
- 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 small can tomato paste
Heat a medium Dutch oven or large skillet over high heat. Add the olive oil and butter and melt together. Add the chicken and cook, breaking up the meat, for 6 minutes. Add the garlic, celery, onion and carrot. Season with salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the beer and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Concentrate the flavor of the beer by reducing the mixture over medium heat for 2 to 5 minutes. Stir in the hot sauce, tomato paste and the tomato sauce. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the chili for 15 minutes.
* I boiled a whole chicken ahead of time and reserved the stock for soups. I roughly diced the cooked chicken (white and dark meat) and used it in this and other recipes. Since it was already cooked I just browned it up a bit before adding the vegetables.
Serve with Blue Cheese Muffins and extra blue cheese crumbles for sprinkling on top. Celery and carrot sticks (although not pictured above) would complete the theme.