This non-traditional chicken chili is filling and comforting. The seeming odd combination of dried chilies, cocoa powder and dried apricots blend together to create an unforgettable meal. It’s also an easy slow-cooker recipe that you can prep in a few minutes in the morning and then forget until right before serving. If you can't find whole dried chilies, you can substitute a tablespoon of chili powder for each dried chili (a total of a 1/4 cup). If you want hotter chili leave some or all of the seeds in or substitute Pasilla chilies for the Guajillos, but be warned, they are hot!
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds bone-in chicken pieces (skin removed)
2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 teaspoon black pepper, divided
1 large onion, diced (about 2 cups)
2 large carrots, diced (about 2 cups)
6 large cloves garlic, minced (about two tablespoons)
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken pieces with a teaspoon of salt and a half teaspoon of black pepper. Add the oil to the pan and brown the chicken pieces on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken pieces to the slow cooker.
Add the onion and carrots to the pan with the remaining salt and pepper. Saute for about five minutes until the onions are translucent and the carrots are beginning to soften. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add a half cup of the chicken broth and scrape the bottom of the pan. Pour the onions and carrots over the chicken in the slow cooker.
Add the chilies, apricots, bay leaf, cumin, cocoa powder, crushed tomatoes, remaining chicken broth and water to the slow cooker. Set the slow-cooker to low and let cook for six hours, or until the chicken is very tender, but not yet falling off the bone.
Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and allow to cool slightly. Remove the bay leaf and discard. Puree the contents of the slow cooker using an immersion blender or in batches in a stand blender. (If you use a stand blender be sure to vent and cover the top of the blender to prevent the scalding hot liquid from exploding up and burning you!)
When the chicken has cooled enough to handle it, remove the bones and any remaining cartilage or skin. Use a fork to shred the chicken into small pieces. Return the chicken along with the pinto beans to the slow cooker. Season to taste with salt. Bring the chili back up to a simmer. Serve hot or allow to cool before storing. Can be frozen for several months or held in the refrigerator for up to a week.