Friday, May 25, 2012

Chili Verde Chicken & Black Beans

As you may have discerned from the title of this recipe, I started eating meat again.  As it turns out, my body needed it -- despite eating prodigious amounts of plant protein and maintaining ridiculously high iron intake when I was vegetarian, I was losing muscle mass like woah and wasn't able to bring myself back from the brink of serious anemia.

Since I'm a big fan of the idea that the hallmark of a healthy diet is flexibility in meeting one's own individual needs, I decided to reintegrate some meat back into my life.

I still eat vegetarian (and, save for my Greek yogurt, mostly plant-based) during the day, but dinners now involve meat of some kind.  My husband, who is very much a meat-eatin' Texan and was probably an apex predator in a past life, is quite pleased.

So, the recipes I post here will sometimes reflect that change -- but because some of my dear friends are vegetarians (and, in other cases, some of my dear friends live with or are married to vegetarians), I plan to try and provide vegetarian options for each omnivorous recipe I post. 

One of my favorite blogs, Peas & Crayons, gives her readers what she refers to as T-Rex and Brontosaurus options -- and I love that idea, so I'm going to follow suit.  Wherever possible, I'll show vegetarian and omnivore-friendly options for each dish.  I want to show some love across the omni-veg schism, you know?

Anyways, without further ado, I present:

Chili Verde Chicken & Black Beans

I'm constantly on the hunt for new recipes to try out with Hubs.  We both love Mexican food -- what with him being from Texas and me being from Colorado and all -- and we both really miss it.  DC has exactly zero good Mexican restaurants, so I wanted to give this recipe a shot as soon as I saw it.

I used this recipe from Epicurious as the basis for the dish, but I omitted the milk, cheese, and black pepper.  I also made a number of substitutions and additions (changes in italics below):
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 3/4 cups Mexican salsa verde (sometimes called tomatillo sauce; from a 16-oz jar)
  • 1 3/4 cups Edward & Sons vegetarian chicken-flavored broth
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups coarsely shredded cooked chicken (from a 2-lb rotisserie chicken, skin removed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups coarsely crushed home-made tortilla chips
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1 cup chopped onion

Vegetarian option: If you sub out the chicken broth with the vegetarian chicken-flavored broth listed above, the only thing left to do is nix the chicken and double the amount of black beans, or add 1/2 cup corn and 1/4 cup quinoa (uncooked - let it cook in the salsa verde, and it'll thicken things up nicely).  This baby will be filled with plant protein and all the good-for-you awesomeness that black beans and quinoa bring to the table. 

Vegan option:  In addition to the substitutions above, omit the sour cream and use fresh avocado or guacamole.  I'd wager that this is far better than sour cream (damn, I wish I'd thought of that before I cooked this!), because really, you can never go wrong with avocado or guac.  Ever. 

Happily, both Hubs and I were pretty impressed by this dish (and it takes a lot to impress Hubs when it comes to Mexican food).  You wouldn't expect such humble ingredients to turn into such an awesome dinner, but it was like a mariachi party in my mouth.  Orale!

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