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Spicy Chicken Chili Dogs to Kick off Summer + Giveaway

by Kristina Gill


Between Harlem and Heaven: Afro Asian American Cooking for Big Nights, Weeknights, and Every Day by chefs JJ Johnson and Alexander Smalls drew me in from the title alone. Opening the book was every bit as alluring. The breadth of cultures and flavors covered by the text and recipes means there’s something for everyone — vegan, vegetarian, and omnivore. The recipe for Yard Dogs with Bebop Chicken Chili we’ve chosen to share captures the spirit with which JJ and Alexander have intertwined history and culture to produce their mouthwatering recipes. The yard dogs are named after jazz great Charlie “Yardbird” Parker, and topped with chili (another ode to Charlie Parker) that is built upon a body of spicy black beans — a key component of Brazilian feijoada, a mainstay of the African diaspora. Why not try grilling these dogs for your next outdoor BBQ? —Kristina

Why JJ and Alexander love this recipe: Alexander loves hot dogs, so our challenge was to make one that fit into a fine-dining atmosphere. We chose good-quality chicken hot dogs for both flavor and health and then we topped them with our chicken chili. We also brush the hot dog buns with butter before lightly toasting them.

For a chance to win a copy of Between Harlem and Heaven (and start cooking delicious food like Tamarind-glazed Oxtails, Salt-Crusted Salmon with Collard Green Salsa Verde, and Tofu Gnocchi with Black Garlic Crema and Scallions!) respond in the comments section by May 23, at 5PM EST to the following question: What is your most beloved cookbook and why? The winner’s name will be posted in the comments section on May 24.

About JJ, Alexander and Veronica:  Alexander Smalls is a restaurateur and co-owner of the celebrated Harlem jazz club Minton’s. As a former chef and restaurant owner, Smalls has received great acclaim in the restaurant scene ― including cooking at the James Beard House and being named one of Zagat’s 19 NYC Restaurant Power Players. His memoir and cookbook, Grace the Table, features recipes from his upbringing of Southern Revival cuisine. Smalls is also a world-renowned opera singer and the winner of both a Grammy and a Tony Award. He lives in Harlem, NY.

Joseph “JJ” Johnson is a James Beard-nominated chef. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Johnson has worked at Centro Vinoteca, Jane, Tribeca Grill, The Cecil, and Minton’s ― and has cooked in Ghana at the country’s leading boutique hotel, Villa Monticello. He was named one of Rolling Stone’s 10 breakthrough rockstar chefs in 2016, one of Zagat’s and Forbes’s 30 Under 30, and Chef of the Year by New York African Restaurant Week. He lives in Harlem, NY.

Together, Smalls and Johnson won Esquire’s Best New Restaurant in America for the acclaimed Harlem restaurant The Cecil, which is now part of Minton’s.

Veronica Chambers is the bestselling coauthor of 32 Yolks with Eric Ripert and Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson and the critically acclaimed author of Mama’s Girl and The Meaning of Michelle.

{Photography by Beatriz da Costa}

{Image above: JJ Johnson (left) and Alexander Smalls (right)}

Image above: Bebop Chicken Chili

Image above: Spicy Black Beans

Image above: Yard dogs

Yard Dog with Bebop Chicken Chili

Fans of the great Charlie Parker know that great chili is synonymous with the birth of bebop. It was during a 1939 jam session at Dan Wall’s Chili House in Harlem course servings that Parker hit the upper chord improvisation that many credit as the lightning bolt moment that became bebop.

In honor of Charlie “Yardbird” Parker, we make our chili with chicken. It’s a great game-day meal for a crowd, but it also works great as a family meal for kids. Alexander likes this on top of our Yard Dog. The secret is the Spicy Black Beans, which get their nice rich flavor from the oxtail braising liquid.

If you don’t have time to do the oxtail braising liquid, you can amp up the flavors in a good beef broth by letting it simmer for an hour with cinnamon sticks, orange juice, and cilantro stems. Use ¼ cup orange juice for every quart of beef broth.


  • Yard Dogs
  • 8 good-quality chicken hot dogs
  • 8 New England–style hot dog buns
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups Bebop Chicken Chili (below)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • Bebop Chicken Chili
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 red bell peppers, diced
  • 1 poblano pepper, diced
  • 1½ pounds ground chicken
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1½ cups Spicy Black Beans (below); or 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can stewed tomatoes
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
  • Spicy Black Beans
  • 1 pound dried black beans, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • kosher salt
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • ½ cup diced carrots
  • 2 bird’s-eye chiles, seeded and minced
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ cup canned chipotles in adobo, chopped, with their sauce (about ½ [7-ounce] can)
  • 6 cups oxtail braising liquid, beef broth, or water
  • freshly ground black pepper



To make the Yard Dogs (8 Servings)

Bring 1 inch of water to a simmer in a large skillet. Add the chicken dogs and cook to plump and heat through, 5 to 8 minutes.

Heat a large cast-iron griddle pan over medium heat. Brush sides of hot dog buns with the melted butter and griddle them, turning, until deeply golden brown, about 30 seconds per side.

Add the hot dogs to the griddle pan, turning often to crisp the casings, about 2 minutes. Place the crispy-skinned dogs in the buns and top each with ¼ cup chili.

Garnish with the cheese and scallions.


To make the Bebop Chicken Chili (Makes 2 quarts; 4 to 6 main-course servings)

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven and add the onion when the oil begins to shimmer. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of the salt and sauté for about 3 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic, bell peppers, and poblano and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

Once the vegetables are soft, add the chicken and spread it out in an even layer on the bottom of the pot. Stir to crumble the chicken as it cooks.

Once the chicken begins to turn opaque, after about 3 minutes, add the spices, herbs, and the remaining 1½ teaspoons salt. Stir to coat and toast the spices and cook for about 3 minutes.

Stir in the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat to medium and cover the pot. Simmer the chili to let the flavors meld and the sauce thicken, about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure the bottom doesn’t burn.

Season to taste. Let cool and store in an airtight nonreactive container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, if you’re not serving it immediately.

Chef JJ’s Kitchen Tips: Some dishes taste better the next day. Making and storing the chili a day in advance gives the flavors a chance to meld and blend together to develop a more complex quality.


To make the Spicy Black Beans (Makes about 6 cups)

Put the black beans in a 2-quart container and fill the container with water. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Drain the beans, discarding the water.

In a 6-quart stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, until the garlic just becomes aromatic. Follow with the onion and ½ tablespoon salt to bring out the flavors and liquid from the vegetables. Cook, stirring constantly, until the onion is translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and chiles and cook for 3 additional minutes.

Stir in the cumin and cook for 1 minute, then add the chipotles and their sauce and cook to heat through. Add the soaked black beans and the oxtail braising liquid.

Lower the heat to medium and let the liquid come to a lazy simmer. Cover and let simmer and reduce for about 1 hour. Uncover the pot and use a wooden spoon to smash some of the beans against the side of the pot. Stir the smashed beans into the stew to make it extra creamy. Simmer, uncovered, for another 30 to 45 minutes, until the beans are very tender but not falling apart.

Season to taste with salt and black pepper and store, with any cooking liquid, in an airtight nonreactive container for up to 3 days.

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