Spice of Life

When it’s time for dinner in my family we instinctually gravitate toward Italian food.  It’s seems kind of strange because no one in my family is Italian.  I’m from New Jersey which has a significant Italian American community, but my mother, who calls the shots in the kitchen, is from Maryland.  She did not grow up with all the Italian favorites she makes today.

Still, the go-to dinner in my family is a pasta dish with whatever veggies are fresh, and whatever meat we’re in the mood for.  When my parents recently took a trip to Italy, however, I knew they would be in Italian food overload.  My mom even e-mailed me towards the end of the trip and said she might be tired of gelato.  Sacrilege!

When they came home, I knew they would be craving anything but pasta, so I turned the tables and made them a spicy Mexican feast to welcome them home and revitalize their taste buds.

Tomatillos! The star of any Mexican “verde” dish!

This dish did the trick:

Chicken Verde Chili

From Sweet Savory Planet

Makes about a gallon


  • 1.5 to 2 lbs of skinless chicken breasts
  • 1.5 of boneless chicken thighs or the equivalent
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 to 2 serranos, minced (jalapenos can be used instead)
  • 2 large green chilies, roasted, peeled deseeded and chopped (4 oz canned whole roasted
    green chilies can be used)
  • 1 large poblano, roasted, peeled and deseeded and chopped
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of dried thyme or 1 tablespoon of fresh
  • 1 teaspoon of dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 lbs of tomatillos, peeled and pureed chunky
  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 can of (15.5 oz) cannellini or great northern white beans
  • 1/4 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon of salt or to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • Serve with cooked basamati rice or brown rice (optional)


  1. Prep all your vegetables according to ingredients list above.
  2. Heat up a dutch oven or soup pot with a Tbs of oil.  Salt and pepper chicken and brown it on both sides in large pieces.  You will cook them through and cut them up later.  Set chicken aside.

    Mound of partially cooked chicken
  3. Throw the chopped onions and celery in the same pot and cook until soft.  Add chilis, herbs and spices.  Saute for two more minutes.  Add tomatillo puree and allow to heat through.  Add chicken stock and bring it to a simmer.

    It’s such a cute little Cuisinart!
  4. Chop or shred the chicken and add into the pot along with the rinsed beans.  Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Add cilantro and salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm with whatever garnishes your heart desires.
    I forgot to snap a pick when it was plated, but here it is simmering with everything finally in the pot!

    Since this makes a nice big pot, my mother first lamented at my lack of regard for recipe size, and then froze and repurposed the leftovers into every variation imaginable: burritos, tacos, probably on top of some pasta…

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