Cold snaps and football season call for chili, but I find so many recipes too heavy for my taste, even when I’m in the mood for a hearty, warming stew. Swapping out chicken for the traditional brisket or ground beef lightens things considerably; creamy white beans and mild, one-alarm seasoning keep things velvety-smooth and gentle enough for younger palates, but still interesting for grownups.
And while it might seem laborious to make your own chicken stock, this chili will give you good reason to stock your fridge. For the stock I used a whole chicken (plus extra necks, and backs leftover from spatchcocking) which yielded the shredded chicken for the chili (with leftovers for chicken salad lunches), and plenty of flavorful stock to freeze for future stews and Italian wedding soup. The chili freezes like a charm, too, if you’re planning ahead for game day or stocking up on quick weeknight meals; portion into quart or pint containers and defrost in the fridge overnight.
White Bean & Chicken Chili
adapted from “The Big Book of Chicken” by Maryana Vollstedt, 2008;
- 1 lb (2 C) dry Great Northern beans (or other similar)
- 6 C low-sodium or homemade chicken stock, plus extra if needed
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 large stalks celery, diced
- one small Poblano or Anaheim chile, diced
- one small jalapeno pepper, seeds removed and minced (optional)
- 2 tsp white pepper
- 1 Tbsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- one 7 oz can of diced green chiles, preferably fire-roasted
- 1/4 C cilantro or flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 2-3 C shredded chicken
- olive oil
- diced onions, Monterey Jack cheese and/or sour cream for topping
- green Tabasco or other verde hot sauce (optional)
Sort the beans to remove any debris and rinse well. Place in a large bowl with enough water to cover by 2″ and soak for 6 hours or overnight.
With enough olive oil to coat a heavy-bottomed dutch oven or soup pot, sweat the onion, garlic, and celery for 5 minutes over medium-high heat. Add the jalapeno, Anaheim chile, white pepper, oregano and coriander and cook for another 3 minutes.
Over high heat, add the beans and 5 cups of stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, partly covered, for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add the canned green chiles, the chicken, cumin, cilantro and salt to taste. Continue to simmer 10 minutes, adding more stock if it’s too thick. Adjust your seasonings to your taste and serve with hot sauce, additional cilantro, shredded cheese and sour cream for garnish.
Note: I used an heirloom variety of dry beans from Rancho Gordo called “Snowcaps” that were wonderful here, but you can substitute canned beans and skip the soaking, if you like. Adding your salt towards the end of cooking will keep beans from toughening.