Southwestern-Spiced Chicken and Black Bean Stew

Makes four 4- to 6-serving portions

If you plan to freeze this stew, wait and buy the fresh garnishes when
you're ready to serve it.

12 thick slices bacon
24 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (9 pounds), large pieces of fat
trimmed
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
4 large onions, diced
4 red bell peppers, cored, seeded and diced
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons chili powder
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cups strong dark beer or stout
8 151/2-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed (about 12 to 16 cups)
4 dried chipotle chiles or 4 chipotle chiles in adobo (optional)
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth (2 quarts), plus more if needed
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 1 lime)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Garnishes: chopped fresh cilantro, lime wedges, sour cream and tortilla
chips

To prep in advance: Cook bacon strips in batches in a skillet over medium
heat until crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Allow bacon to
cool, then crumble into pieces and refrigerate for up to two days.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the chicken thighs on foil-lined
baking sheets and season with salt and pepper. Cover the chicken with foil
and bake chicken for 30 to 40 minutes or until it reaches 165 degrees on
an instant-read thermometer. (Depending on your oven size, you may need to
do this in batches.) Cool and refrigerate up to 2 days.

To assemble during the party: You'll need a very large pot, at least 12
quarts, or two 6- to 8-quart pots. Put olive oil in the pot and place over
medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper, season well with salt; cook,
stirring often, until the onion softens and browns slightly, about 10 to
15 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder and cumin and cook, stirring, for
about 2 to 3 minutes. Raise the heat to high, add the beer, beans, the
whole chipotles (if using) and the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce
to a simmer, and cook for 5 minutes.

Chop the chicken into 1-inch chunks. Add to the stew, along with the
bacon, lime juice and 1/2 cup cilantro. Season to taste with salt and
pepper. If using dried chipotles, remove and discard. Allow stew to cool
(see note), divide among four self-sealing 1-gallon freezer bags, label
with contents and reheating instructions, and freeze.

To serve: Heat the stew in a saucepan over medium heat. Ladle into bowls
and serve with chopped cilantro, lime wedges, sour cream and tortilla
chips on the side.

Note: Because this is a very large quantity of thick stew, it takes hours
to cool down. To help it cool, either pour it into a shallow pan and set
it in a sinkful of ice cubes; or, before you start to cook, fill a clean
plastic bottle with water and freeze, then use it to stir the stew until
cool.

-- Adapted from Tony Rosenfeld, Fine Cooking magazine

PER SERVING: calories: 366; protein: 40.8 grams; total fat: 13.9 grams;
saturated fat: 3.2 grams; cholesterol: 140 mg; sodium: 703 mg;
carbohydrate:
16.6 grams; dietary fiber: 4.6 grams


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