No. 106: Chipotle Chicken Chili

If you're up for a (somewhat) dramatic Saturday night story, read this section. If you just want a chili recipe, skip below. You have been warned.


Saturday night we'd made a delicious spicy chicken and salad dinner. We were settling in for some DVR catchup ...

Then Mr. McC found a flea on Elsie. We grabbed the flea comb and found one more. Then we found one on Ballack. Then we went straight into Operation Lock Down.

You see, we've been here before. Our first fall in Northern California our dogs got fleas for the first time in their lives. We were shocked and a bit ashamed. We thought we had taken all the preventative steps necessary.

My veterinarian parents had great recommendations and assured me that this happens to good dog parents all the time. Mom even faxed me a brochure on the Life Cycle of a Flea. So informative. So gross.

Side note: For those of you who have kids, I'm assuming this is what it's like to have them come home with lice. You've done everything you can to prevent it, but sometimes the environment around you wins.

We're 99.9 percent sure that our kids picked up fleas that day at Petco when they were there for grooming. Ugh.

Operation Lock Down

In case you're curious, or have pets, this is what Operation Lock Down looks like at our house:

  • Step 1: Spouse 1 vaccuums your home while Spouse 2 grabs all blankets and dog bed covers and begins to wash them in hot water.
  • Step 2: Spouse 2 makes a run to for medicated flea shampoo. Spouse 1 washes both dogs, searching suds in tub religiously for any signs of tiny black things jumping ship.
  • Step 3: You both sigh in relief when you realize you're dealing with probably 10 fleas max, not an infestation.
  • Step 5: You still spray your entire carpet and all upholstery with intense chemicals before bed, shutting yourself in your bedroom til morning.
  • Step 6: You awake, flea comb both dogs and feel relief again when no little guys are found.

It looks like we're in the clear! No sightings on Sunday. But every time one of the dogs even looks like they itch I get seriously creeped out.

Chipotle Chicken Chili

After a busy Saturday evening, we wanted something comforting and soothing for Sunday. Something easy to eat while watching Game of Thrones and reflecting on the four open houses we attended. This chicken chili sounded perfect.


2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeds and pith removed, minced
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in a large dice
1 bottle (12 ounces) good beer
1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes
2 whole chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
1 can (14 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (14 ounces) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
1/8 cup masa harina*
1 Lime, Juiced
Sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, cilantro and lime edges for serving

*I used all-purpose flour to make this thickening paste.

To make

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat then add the onions, jalapeno and garlic. Cook for a few minutes until onions soften. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned.


Add 1/2 of the beer, reserving the rest, then cook for a couple of minutes to reduce. Add the tomatoes, chipotles, beans, chili powder, cumin and salt. Stir to combine, then cover the pot and cook for 1 hour.


Combine the masa harina with 1/8 of the beer and stir to make a paste. Add this into the chili, along with the lime juice. Stir and cook for 10 more minutes or until thick.

Serve with sour cream, cheese, cilantro, and another squeeze of lime.

Pioneer Woman Note: This is a great base for a lot of things. Top potato skins with it, pour it over Fritos, serve it in tacos, etc.

The results

We love chili in the McCormick household. Even when it's 80 degrees out, we can find a way to fit it in.

Chicken final

This chicken chili is a great twist on an old favorite. The beer, tomato and adobo base is really pleasant and adds some complexity to the layers of flavor. I ate mine with some corn tortillas for dipping.

I'd love to serve this over fritos or fine dice the chicken and serve as a base for a taco pie casserole. Now that would be a Super Bowl party crowd pleaser.

Check out a full index of recipes here
Send me your thoughts, comments and ideas at

Amelia McCormick

Kansas girl transplanted to Asheville, North Carolina. Smiler, lover of great food and wine, facilitator, runner, storyteller, wife, optimist, and mother of sweet twins:)

Asheville, North Carolina