Meat Lite: Black Bean and Cashew Chicken Chili Recipe

Meat Lite

Mostly vegetarian dishes with just a touch of meaty accent.

Meat Lite: Black Bean and Cashew Chicken Chili Recipe

Editor's note: Philadelphia food writers Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond drop by each week with Meat Lite, which celebrates meat in moderation. Meat Lite was inspired by their book, Almost Meatless.

This satisfying chili is loosely adapted from a recipe I recently discovered on Epicurious. The first time I made it, I followed the directions exactly but kept thinking of improvements. It also struck me as a good candidate for a Meat Lite makeover. The original recipes calls for 24 ounces of chicken, while this version uses half that. The addition of plenty of black beans makes it even more satisfying than a dish with more meat.

  • Yield:4 to 6


  • 2 dried guajillo chiles, seeded, toasted for a minute in a dry pan and roughly chopped
  • 2/3 cup raw cashews, divided
  • 1 jalapeño, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, about 12 ounces total, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 2 cups diced onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups (2 15-ounce cans) black beans
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1/2 ounce dark chocolate, chopped
  • Lime wedges, for serving


  1. 1.

    Place the guajillo chiles, 1/3 cup of cashews, jalapeño, and chicken stock in the jar of a blender. Puree until completely smooth. Set aside.

  2. 2.

    Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat until just smoking, and add the chicken thighs, skin side down. Let them cook for 4 minutes without moving them, then flip, cooking another 4 minutes. Remove from the pan and reserve.

  3. 3.

    Reduce heat to medium and add the onions, garlic, cumin and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions have softened, about 8 minutes. Add the chile-cashew puree and the black beans, and stir to combine. Add the tomatoes, stir, and nestle the chicken thighs into the chili. Increase the heat to high, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook, partially covered, for 45 minutes.

  4. 4.

    Remove the chicken pieces from the pan, remove and discard the skin, and pull the chicken from the bones in bite-size shreds. Add the chocolate, cilantro and remaining cashews, stirring until the chocolate has melted into the chili, and then add the shredded chicken. Serve with lime wedges and rice or corn bread.