This robust chicken chili recipe will have your dinner guests lining up for seconds. And imagine how enthralled they’ll be when you tell them that the very chili they’re savouring is from a recipe devised by the legendary Countess Lapinski, a Polish aristocrat who emigrated to Texas in 1882. The graceful, delicate countess wore her plumed hat and full skirts as she rode her white horse side saddle from one Texas town to the next, dispensing bowls of her trademark chili to cowboys and outlaws alike. No doubt she charmed her way across the state, winning hearts wherever she roamed.
Countess Lapinski’s Chicken Chili
I use a Farberware Pot Pourri all-purpose fast and slow cooker that dates from the 1960s for this recipe. Since the chances are very high that you lack such an archaic item of cookware, make the chili in a large pot on your stovetop.
In 3 tablespoons of canola oil, saute 3 minced cloves of garlic and 2 large chopped onions over medium heat. Continue cooking for at least five minutes, or until the onions are very soft and translucent.
Add 2 chopped red peppers to the pan and saute for another five minutes, or until the peppers are soft and the onions have taken on a reddish cast.
Add 1 1/2 pounds of extra lean ground chicken (or turkey) to the pot. (Rumour has it that the countess used kielbasa in her native Poland, but since this was not available in 19th-century Texas, she found a worthy substitute in ground poultry.) Saute until the meat is no longer pink and is slightly browned. Spoon the excess fat from the pan.
Stir in 1 1/2 large cans of chopped tomatoes (a total of 42 ounces), 2 cans of drained and rinsed red kidney beans (a total of 38 ounces) and 1 tablespoon of tomato paste.
Finally, stir in the following spice mixture, the composition of which suggests that the countess was not faint hearted: 1 1/2 tablespoons of chili powder, 1 tablespoon of cumin, 1 tablespoon of oregano, 1 tablespoon of basil, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. The mixture has a strong kick, so if your palate is more timid than Countess Lapinski’s was, you may want to adjust the spices to your taste.
Cover and simmer the whole lot for an absolute bare minimum of 1 1/2 hours. The flavours will mature to full fiery intensity if simmered even longer. Stir periodically, and if the chili is sticking to the bottom of the pan, lower the temperature slightly.
To add a gooey, decadent quality to the chili, serve each portion with a big heap of grated cheese sprinkled on top.
I hope you enjoy this recipe, which, of course, I cannot claim even the slightest bit of credit for. It was created entirely by that noble purveyor of hearty chili to hungry Texans, the extraordinary Countess Lapinski.