Susie's Southern Chicken Chili

Know how I *know* it's fall? I'm craving chili. [Even though it was still 90° two days ago, a massive cold front came through over Friday night - highs in the 70's now! I know that doesn't sound like "fall" to many of you, but a 20° drop *IS* a big deal, and 55°-60° in the mornings is COLD! My perfect fall!!! Air off & windows open 24/7 have even dropped the temp in our house 10°...not that that part will continue much longer overnight. Brrrr! ;-)]

In preparation for a day of Sunday football AT HOME¹ after church, JB & I decided to make a TON of chicken chili yesterday. (Always make ahead - it's SO MUCH BETTER the longer the flavors have to meld!) We made a huuuge double batch - two giant stockpots-worth! JB loves it, and I got this amazing "26 piece Luminarc Working Glass Serve and Store with Airtight BPA-free Plastic Green Lids" set at Costco at home this summer for less than $20, (I Costco!) so it was very easy to put up one pot to freeze. (It made one big bowl that will feed us for dinner, and four individual serving-sized bowls = perfect for when JB comes home late from work.) Another bonus of these freezer- & microwave-safe bowls? Glass doesn't get tomato stains. ;-)

I invented this recipe myself, pulling from others and our own preferences. It turned out DELICIOUS!!!

Susie's Southern Chicken Chili
•1 onion
•4 garlic cloves
•1 tablespoon olive oil
•1 bell pepper [ick for me - I hate peppers; but most people don't, so if you must... ;-)]
•1 quart (32 oz.) chicken stock
•2 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes in juice
•1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
•3 grilled² or cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chunked or shredded
•2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed, or fresh
•3 cups (14 oz.) frozen chopped okra³, thawed, or fresh
•2 (15 ounce) cans red kidney beans
•1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans
•2 tablespoons chili powder
•1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
•1 bay leaf
•salt to taste [we have Himalayan pink salt from The Salt Table in Savannah!]

Heat oil in a huge stockpot. Cook onion & garlic several minutes, until translucent.
Add everything else, and bring to a boil. Keep stirring and simmering, as long as you'd like. Keep tasting, so you know how much salt you need to add. If it cooks down too much, add more chicken stock, (or water, if you only had a quart of stock.)

When we got ours to the point where we were satisfied, we made sure it was covered and let it sit off the heat while we watched TV last night before putting the whole pot in the fridge right before bed. (It was at that point we divided up and froze the other pot, too.) It was super easy to pull out & heat up as soon as we got home from church today, and the flavors were significantly better than even last night!

¹ After several years of loving Sunday afternoons after church at Buffalo Wild Wings with every NFL game, our local Sunday Ticket restaurant here (no BWW) closed last month; the only other restaurant within an hour & a half radius with Sunday Ticket only has 4 TVs and wouldn't show the Redskins. [Boy, did THEY lose a valuable set of potentially loyal customers!] So, we are now personal Sunday Ticket holders, again...and it's actually a nice change of pace. Time to get back into Sunday cookin' like this. ;-)

² It's FINALLY good grilling weather here! :-D While people further north are storing their grills for the winter, we're ready to get into prime grilling season! [It's too hot to grill when it's 100°, but 70° is perfection! YAY for fresh grilled chicken!!!]

³ Yes, okra. I actually grew up okra-free, [a Southern sin? Take it up with my okra-hating mom, ;-)] but I really got into it this year through my favorite vegetable beef soup at Cafe 230 here. JB loves it, so I thought, "Why not?" After all, it's a staple in gumbo! Verdict: big winner in this recipe, according to me, JB, & Annelise. [Unanimous among tasters; Will sillily abstained. :-P]