I learned something new recently: there is such a thing as National Chili Month, and it's the month of October.
It makes sense that October would get the chili claim to fame, what with the leaves changing, weather getting cooler and football season kicking off. Yet somehow I'm still surprised. There's a day or month for everything, I suppose.
Since October (National Chili Month) just started, I thought it was a perfect time to share my recipe for Chicken and Bacon Green Chili, but then I discovered that a contentious debate exists about how to spell the word "chili". You've probably seen several variations yourself. There's "chili", "chile", "chilli", and even "chillie". Call me a nerd, but I was so curious about the correct spelling that I Googled it!
Apparently "chile" is the original Spanish word used to describe the pepper that grows on the plant and dish made from it. Folks in the Southwest region are passionate that "chile" is the only correct spelling. However, "chili" is the Americanized version of the word that is widely used to describe the popular meaty dish as well as the spice, chili powder. Thankfully, "chilli" (with two l's) can stay on the sidelines of this debate since it's the common spelling in Europe, England and Australia, and not so much in the U.S.
Still, how I should spell the name of this dish is far from clear. It's both a meat "chili" since it contains chicken and bacon and it's made primarily with green chiles. So how do I appease all parties? I'll just cover all of my bases and call it both chile and chili. So here it is, my delicious Chicken and Bacon Green Chili / Chili Verde a.k.a. Green Chile / Chile Verde. Whew! That was exhausting. I promise it was all worth it, though, because this recipe tied for first place at my neighborhood chili cook off last year!
Not only did this Chicken and Bacon Green Chili / Chile Verde tie for the most votes, it's also hearty, nutritious, and perfect for Fall. You can add "full of flavor" and and "friendly to a wide variety of diets" to it's resume since it's gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, low-carb, Paleo, Primal and keto-friendly. If Whole30 compliant bacon and chicken stock is used, this Chicken and Bacon Green Chili / Chile Verde is also Whole30-friendly. I'm telling you, this Chicken and Bacon Green Chili / Chile Verde is awesome!
Health Benefits & Nutrition Info
Did you know that green chiles are a good source of several nutrients? It's true! Green chiles are an excellent source of vitamin C and contain both beta carotene that the body can turn into vitamin A and potassium (source). But they're not the only ingredients that provide health benefits.
- Chicken is very nutrient dense, providing Niacin (B3), vitamin B6, Pantothenic Acid (B5) and Riboflavin (B2), in addition to selenium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc and healthy monounsaturated fats. Yes, I said monounsaturated fat. Over half of the fat found in skinless chicken thighs is the heart-healthy monounsaturated type of fat (source).
- Onions contain essential vitamins and minerals, but their real power lies in sulfur compounds and antioxidants that research suggests may aid in everything from keeping the heart healthy and fighting cancer to balancing blood sugar and protecting nerves (source).
- Tomatillos contain vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium and fiber (source), and their flavor makes them the perfect addition to this dish!
Tips, Tricks & Ingredients
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You have a lot of choices to make this Chicken & Bacon Green Chili / Chile Verde, from using fresh tomatillos and fresh roasted green chiles to canned tomatillos and frozen roasted green chiles. I've done both, but I have to admit that being a busy mom, I usually opt for the easier route of canned tomatillos and frozen green chiles.
Below are some additional choices and tips.
- You can use about two pounds of leftover or precooked chicken for this recipe, or you can easily roast some chicken at the start of this recipe. I prefer to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs since they are less expensive and more flavorful. Whatever you use, start with two and a half pounds of raw chicken since chicken always looses some moisture when it cooks. Just rub with a little oil, sprinkle with a little salt and roast at 400 degrees farenheit for about 30 minutes.
- I like to puree half of the green chiles to make a smoother chili. If you forego pureeing half of the green chiles, your resulting green chili will be very chunky and hearty. I think it's great either way!
- This green chili can be made Whole30 compliant if Whole30 compliant chicken stock and bacon is used. Chicken stock that adheres to Whole30 guidelines is easy enough to find if you choose an organic brand, but bacon is a tough one. Apparently both U.S. Wellness Meats (an online retailer) and Wellshire Farms (available at Whole Foods) make a Whole30 compliant bacon.
- Sometimes I add beans to this Chicken & Bacon Green Chili / Chile Verde, either black beans or pinto beans. Both are good, but it's delicious without beans, too. With beans this Chicken and Bacon Green Chili / Chile Verde has more carbohydrates; foregoing the beans keeps it Paleo, low carb and keto-friendly. You can customize it to suit your tastes and dietary needs!
- This Chicken & Bacon Green Chili / Chile Verde is amazing topped with cheddar or Mexican blend shredded cheese and sour cream. But don't worry. If you can't eat dairy, it's good without it, too. Just top it with extra cooked bacon. Yum!
- While I didn't like ceramic coated (enameled) cast iron sautee pans, I do really like my Calphalon Cast Iron Dutch Oven. I have used it a lot over the past eight years, and it still resists sticking and heats evenly. It also holds the heat, so I can turn off the stove knowing the pan and meal will still be hot for second servings!
- I use my Ninja Master Prep for pureeing the tomatillos (and green chiles). It only cost me $40, but it has been my loyal kitchen assistant that does a wide variety of tasks. Check it out below!
Chicken & Bacon Green Chili (Chile Verde)
Now that we've talked about how to spell chili or chile, all of the ways that you can go about making and eating this Chicken & Bacon Green Chili / Chile Verde and the nutrients you will get from it, here is a short video showing you how to make it. Keep scrolling down for the complete recipe!
Chicken & Bacon Green Chili (Chile Verde)
Gluten-free | Grain-free | Dairy-free | Egg-free | Nut-free | Paleo | Keto | Low-carb | Whole30 compliant
- 2 lbs cooked chicken, cut into bit size pieces
- 12-16 oz bacon, cut into ¼ inch strips
- 3 lbs roasted and chopped green chiles (Hatch or Pueblo chiles, whatever you fancy)
- 1 lb fresh tomatillos or 1 29-oz can of tomatillos, pureed
- 1 medium/large onion, diced
- 2 medium/large bell peppers, diced (yellow, orange or red)
- 5 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
- 1 ½ - 2 cups chicken stock
If you are using leftover or precooked chicken, skip this step. Otherwise, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken thighs on a baking sheet. Rub with a little avocado oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Roast at 400 for 30 minutes.
While the chicken thighs are cooking, heat a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until the bacon is brown and the fat is rendered. Remove the bacon and set aside in a separate dish.
Add the diced onion to the bacon fat and cook until softened. Add the bell pepper and garlic and continue cooking for another few minutes, stirring occasionally so the garlic doesn’t burn. Add the oregano, cumin and salt and stir again.
In the meantime, prepare the tomatillos. If using fresh, remove the husk and core and rinse. If using canned, drain the water from the can and puree the tomatillos in a blender. If you are using fresh roasted green chiles, prepare them by cutting off the stem, removing the skin (and seeds, for more mild chili) and dicing. If you wish to puree half of the green chiles, do it now. Add the green chiles and pureed tomatillos to the onion and bell peppers. Add the chicken stock and continue cooking.
Chop the chicken into bite size pieces. Add that and the bacon. Stir well and cook for at least another 15 minutes.
Serve warm topped with shredded cheese and sour cream, or for a dairy-free and Paleo version, top with additional cooked bacon instead.
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