Fighting The Cold

Chili the perfect antidote to cold weather

For many people, winter is a time to huddle up indoors, where the harsh weather synonymous with the season can do us no harm. Food is often a friend during such times, as certain foods act like a warm blanket on an otherwise bone chilling day or night.

Perhaps no food is more effective at warding off winter weather than chili. A bowl of chile can be the perfect remedy on a cold day, and the following recipe for "Chicken and Black Bean Chili" from Leslie Jonath and Frankie Frankeny's "Soup's On!" (Chronicle Books) is sure to please.

Chicken and Black Bean Chili

Serves 6 to 8

1/2    cup olive oil or vegetable oil, divided

11/2    pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut in 1-inch cubes

2    to 3 tablespoons chile powder

1    tablespoon cumin seeds

2    cups diced yellow onions

1    cup seeded, diced yellow onions

1    red bell pepper, diced

3    canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced

1/4    cup minced garlic (4 to 6 cloves)

1    can (14.5 ounces) black beans

1    can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes

2    ears corn, kernels cut from the cobs

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1    ripe avocado, halved, pitted and diced

1    cup cherry tomatoes, quartered

1/2    red onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)

1/2    bunch fresh cilantro, minced

1/2    cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 4 limes)

2    jalapeno chiles, seeded and minced

11/2    teaspoons kosher salt

1/2    cup crumbled Mexican cotija cheese

1/2    cup grated mixed cheddar and monterey jack cheeses

Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a heavy-bottomed, 8-quart pot over medium heat. Add the chicken, chili powder and cumin seeds and saute until the chicken is cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer the meat to a bowl and set aside.

Return the pot to the heat, add the remaining 1/4 cup of oil, and cook the onions, poblanos, bell pepper, chipotles, and garlic, stirring frequently, until the onions start to brown. Stir in the beans with their liquid, tomatoes and corn and return the cooked chicken with all its juices. Turn the heat down to low and simmer, stirring every 5 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and tender, about 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a large bowl, combine the avocado, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, lime juice, jalapenos, and salt. Set aside.

To sever, ladle the chili into bowls and top with the salsa and cheeses.