Monday, January 20, 2014

White Chicken Chili

White chicken chili served over rice, with a side of homemade cornbread.
As Alton Brown (my culinary hero) might say, "That's good eats!"
We had chili quite a bit when I was growing up - but never with chicken. It was always the red chili with plenty of beans and hamburger. I still love it that way but as I've gotten older I've also gained an appreciation for that other kind of chili - white chicken chili.

My wife is a sometime vegetarian but even she'll eat this - and my son much prefers it to a red chili. I'm not certain I could honestly say that I PREFER the white over the red, but suffice it to say I'm a fan of both and for some reason the chicken version at least SEEMS a bit healthier (which could very well be all in my mind).

So, here is how I make mine. Keep in mind that all of the spices can (and should) be adjusted to suit your tastes. We are not fans of hot and spicy chili (or hot and spicy anything else for that matter) in our house but I have plenty of friends that believe the hotter the better in the food department. Because of that, I'm aware that this recipe even more than many of my others needs to be adjusted to allow for the taste preferences of your household.

Likewise, I use homemade chicken broth and beans that I've soaked and cooked myself rather than from a can. Feel free to use canned broth and beans if that's what you prefer or have time for!


  • 2 cups cooked chicken (Use more or less depending upon how much chicken you want in the recipe as opposed to beans. I used leftover chicken from a whole chicken I had cooked earlier in the week. If you buy rotisserie chicken from the store, this is a good way to use any leftovers. You can also bake, roast or poach chicken specifically for this purpose if you want. If you poach it, use the leftover liquid in place of the chicken broth further down in this list.)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (garlic infused if available, plain is fine if not)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 whole cans green chilies, chopped
  • 1 pound navy beans, soaked per directions on the bag - OR - 2 (14.5-ounce) cans white beans
  • 8 cups chicken broth (4 cups if using canned beans or precooked beans)
  • 1 whole roasted jalapeño or 1 whole chipotle, sliced (the best directions I've seen for roasting your own peppers are here - and if you're a wimp like all of us here in our household remember to remove the seeds)
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste

Optional ingredients
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tbsp cornmeal
  • grated cheddar cheese, to taste
  • sour cream for garnish

Sautéing onions and garlic

  1. Pour the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan on medium heat
  2. Add onions and cook until just turning translucent (about two or three minutes)
  3. Add garlic and chopped chilies and cook until fragrant (about a minute)
  4. Add the cumin, coriander, chili powder and paprika and cook for another minute to toast the spices
  5. Add the chicken stock and beans and bring to a simmer
  6. If using uncooked beans, cook for two hours or until the beans are tender (if you are using canned beans, cook for about twenty minutes until heated through)
  7. Stir in the chicken and roasted jalapeño
  8. Add the cornmeal to the cup of milk and stir well (this step and the next are optional - I like the flavor and texture it adds to the chili. It thickens it at the same time. If you don't like cornmeal or if your chili is thick enough feel free to skip both)
  9. Pour the cornmeal mixture into the chili and stir well (optional - along with previous step)
  10. Serve chili in a bowl topped with cheddar cheese (or your choice of cheese) and sour cream. If you have cilantro on hand, maybe a slice of lime or some tortilla chips and salsa it would also make an excellent finish!
My wife loves her chili served over white rice. I had never heard of it before but I have since seen it served that way in a few restaurants as well. Now, we always have it that way and I have to admit it makes it even better!

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