This chili is one of our favorite recipes from Jacqueline Higuera McMahan, whose family lived on one of the last Spanish land grant ranchos in California. This recipe gets its unique flavor from an artful combination of chiles: roasted Anaheims, fresh jalapenos, sweet red bells and dried red New Mexico peppers. Lemony-tart tomatillos add their touch as well to this delightful Cal-Mex dish. Serve with warm corn tortillas and frosty glasses of Mexican beer. McMahan is author of "The California Rancho Cookbook," "Healthy Mexican Cookbook" and "The Mexican Breakfast Cookbook," among others.
1 pound great Northern or navy beans
8 cups water
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 (12-ounce) can of beer, not dark
2 cups diced onion
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 cup diced red bell pepper
2 jalapeno chiles, seeded and diced
4 Anaheim or New Mexican green chiles, charred, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon crushed cumin seeds
1 1/4 pounds skinned, boned chicken breasts
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can chicken broth
2 tablespoons ground New Mexican red chile
1 pound tomatillos, husks removed by soaking
1 cup minced cilantro
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon salt + more to taste
2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese
Cilantro leaves, for garnish
INSTRUCTIONS: To prepare the beans: Pick beans over for debris, then place in a sieve and rinse well. Transfer to a large pot. Add the water, onion, garlic and some black pepper. Simmer for 2 to 3 hours, until tender. Add the salt during the last 30 minutes of cooking.
To prepare the chili: While the beans are cooking, pour the beer into a 4-quart pot. Add the onion, garlic, bell pepper, jalapenos, green chiles, oregano and cumin. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Cut the chicken into strips, then dice. Add to the chili along with the chicken broth. Sprinkle the red chile over the top and simmer for 15 minutes.
Combine the tomatillos, cilantro, vinegar and salt in a food processor and process to a salsa consistency. Stir into the chili. Add the drained cooked beans and simmer for 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt.
Ladle a generous cup of chili into each serving bowl. Sprinkle 1/3 cup grated cheese on top of each bowl. If desired, run under the broiler until the cheese is golden. Garnish with cilantro leaves.
Per serving: 620 calories, 49 g protein, 68 g carbohydrate, 17 g fat (9 g saturated), 91 mg cholesterol, 1,020 mg sodium, 16 g fiber.