October 10, 2012

The Maine Ingredient: One of fall's many charms – it's chili time

By Brooke Dojny

Now that the weather has turned chilly, our thoughts turn to the cozy, warming dishes of autumn.

Chili is one of my go-to suppers, and people don't seem to tire of it. Here are two versions – the classic standard made with beef, tomatoes and kidney beans, and a lovely pale chicken and white bean chili flecked with green.


This most basic of chilis is quick, never-fail and delicious, especially when served with hot corn bread and a salad. A big plus is that everything except the meat can be ready and waiting on the pantry shelf at all times – and, oh yes, the chili can be made up to two days ahead and also freezes well.

Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound ground beef (or "meat loaf mix" of beef, veal, pork)

1 large onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

2 to 3 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 (14-ounce) can beef broth

1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice

1 (14-ounce) can kidney beans

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large deep skillet or Dutch oven, heat the oil. Add the meat, onion and garlic and cook over medium to medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until meat is browned and no pink remains, about 8 minutes.

Add chili powder, cumin and oregano and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the broth, diced tomatoes and beans, bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, and cook for about 30 minutes until sauce is slightly reduced and flavors are blended.

Use the back of a large spoon to crush some of the beans against the side of the pot to help thicken the chili. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


This is a lovely white and green chili that can be made with leftover chicken or with rotisserie chicken from the deli. It gets some heat from the jalapenos -- and if you want things a little less spicy, remove their ribs and seeds or just use one pepper. Serve with a chopped tomato salad and warm corn tortillas.

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

4 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 (14-ounce) can chicken broth

1 (14-ounce) can white beans, drained

21/2 cups shredded cooked chicken

11/2 cups shredded mixed Mexican cheese

2 jalapeno peppers, minced

1 cup chopped scallions, including green tops

1 cup chopped cilantro

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large deep skillet or Dutch oven, heat the oil. Add onion and garlic and cook over medium heat until onion softens and lightly browns, about 6 minutes. Add the oregano and cumin and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add the wine, raise heat to high, and boil briskly until most liquid evaporates. Add the broth, beans and chicken and simmer over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes until sauce is slightly reduced and flavors blend.

Add the cheese and stir over low heat until it melts. Add the jalapenos, scallions and cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently "Lobster!" (Storey, 2012). She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at:



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