Chipotle Chicken & Black Bean Stew
Meal prep is hard to keep interesting. I often turn to soups and stews because they reheat better and almost taste better once they get to hangout and meld their flavors, as opposed to things like chicken breasts or roasted vegetables, which I prefer freshly made. As a self-proclaimed lentil thought leader, I make a ton of Indian daals (or lentil stews). Red lentils are especially easy and I make them all the time - they cook in about 20 mins and if I throw in a massive bunch of greens, they check all my nutritional boxes. But man, even lentil thought leaders need a break from lentils. So this Sunday, I was thinking about how to make something Mexican-ish for our lunches and landed on this chipotle chicken and black bean soup, loaded up with lots of carrots and sweet corn.
I took the basic idea from my chicken tinga tacos - spicy chipotle peppers and sweet and tangy tomatoes. But here is what really made the recipe spectacular - I rendered the fat from the chicken thighs and then used the crisped up skin in the pot, broken into bits, as you would use bacon in a stew. That added such an amazing depth of flavor and I feel like such a little genius. I had never used that technique and now, this will become a go-to for me. This stew keeps really well in the fridge and is one of those things that tastes better a couple of days later.
5-6 skin-on chicken thighs
1 large white onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 cups carrot, cubed
6 to 8 garlic cloves, crushed and roughly chopped
3 chipotle peppers plus 2 tbsp adobo sauce
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp dried Mexican oregano
1 28 oz can whole, peeled tomatoes
1 15 oz can black beans
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup frozen corn
½ of water (optional)
½ cup chopped cilantro
Begin by rendering the chicken. Place the thighs skin-down in a Dutch oven pot and then place the pot over medium heat. Render the fat by leaving the thighs undisturbed for 20 minutes. Then, flip the chicken to the other side carefully and brown for 5 mins. If the skin comes off in the process or gets stuck, simply scrape it to make sure the chicken is touching the pot. Then remove the chicken, shaking off as much fat as you can, and place them on a plate.
Next, break up the chicken skins with your spatula and let them brown for 3-5 additional minutes. Add the sliced onions to the pot and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomato paste to the pot and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add the carrots, garlic, chipotle peppers, and adobo sauce to the pot; mix well and cook for another 5 minutes. Next, add the ground cumin and Mexican oregano and stir for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Add the can of tomatoes and break them up roughly with your spatula and cook for 3-5 minutes. Next, add the two cups of broth and mix well. Nestle the pieces of chicken into the stew and put the lid on and cook for 30 minutes.
Then, drain and add the can of black beans and stir well. Place the lid back on and cook for an additional 15 minutes. Add in the cup of frozen corn and mix well. If you’d like more liquid, add another ½ cup of water and stir well.
Lastly, remove the pieces of chicken thigh onto a plate and let them cool for a few minutes. Then, shred the chicken using your hands or two forks. Discard the bones. Put the chicken into the pot and stir well. Garnish with the chopped cilantro and serve!