Fat is full of flavor. That is a fact, and when we try to cut fat from our foods we need to replace that satisfying flavor with something else, and the bold flavors of chile peppers are a really great way to do that.
If you've never cooked with dried chiles, try this recipe. First of all, dried chiles are easily found at almost any grocery store...even at Wal-Mart...and they are dirt cheap. I like to buy them at the Latin food markets because they sell them loose and I can pick up just the amount that I need, but if you can only find them bagged, buy them that way and they will keep almost forever.
Pasilla and Guajillo chiles are what I used in this recipe for Chicken Stewed with Chiles. They are considered to be mild (as chile peppers go) but their heat can vary from one to the next, so be sure to taste them so you can adjust the heat in your stew to suit your taste. The stew will not be as hot the second day as it is the first because the flavors have a chance to balance.
Most recipes using dried chiles begin by roasting the chiles, and this recipe that I've created is very traditional, so get out your cast iron skillet or heavy-bottomed pan and roast your chiles as I did in the above photo. Then, while they are cooling, in a non-stick skillet brown the chicken breasts. They should be nice and brown, as this one is below.
After the chiles are roasted and cooled enough for you to handle, slice the stem off, slit the side and remove the seeds. Discard those. Then slice the peppers into thin slices, as I did in the photo below.
Toss all the vegetables and the dried chile slices together in a non-stick pan and saute until they start to soften. (Above) Add the wine and reduce by half, then stir in the remaining ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the chicken breasts back into the stew and continue simmering for 15 - 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. (Below) It should be nice and thick and will smell unbelievably good. You can eat it now, but it's so much better if you wait one more day.
This serves 6 people and here's the approximate nutritional breakdown:
3 pounds chicken breast, no skin, no bone, R-T-C 1 1/2 cups sliced green bell pepper 1 1/2 cups sliced red bell pepper 2 cups onions, chopped 2 each pasilla peppers 2 each guajillo peppers 6 cloves garlic, sliced 14 1/2 ounces canned diced tomatoes 1 cup white wine, sauvignon blanc 1 cup chicken stock
Salt & Pepper to taste
1. Heat cast iron skillet over medium heat until hot. Place dried peppers flat in pan. Roast until heated and fragrant (do not burn), then turn and warm other side. They will be soft and pliable. Remove to cutting board and allow to cool till you can handle them. Slit side of each pepper and remove seeds. Slice off stem and then slice pepper cross-wise into 1/4 inch slices. Set aside.
2. Rinse, dry, and trim fat from chicken breasts. Heat nonstick pan sprayed with cooking oil spray over medium-high heat until hot, then lay breasts onto hot pan. Season with salt and pepper and allow to brown without turning on the first side, then repeat on the second side. Remove to platter.
3. In same non-stick skillet sprayed with cooking oil spray, saute bell peppers, onion, garlic, and dried peppers till vegetables begin to soften. Add wine and simmer rapidly until reduced by half. Add undrained canned tomatoes and chicken stock. Simmer rapidly, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Nestle the chicken breasts into the stewed vegetables (pour any juices from the plate into the stew, too), reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently for 15 - 20 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in the center. Cool and refrigerate overnight. (This allows all the bold flavors to learn how to cooperate with each other!)
4. When ready to serve, gently heat the chicken in the stewed sauce over medium heat on the stove. Remove chicken pieces; slice, and serve by themselves or on a bed of rice and topped with a generous spoonful of the stewed vegetables.