If you’ve spent much time with me here on Relishing It, you already know that I love spending time in the kitchen, working my way through an intricate recipe. Not much makes me happier than pouring through ingredients in the afternoon sun, with the sound of my little ones playing in the next room. Yes, that’s my heaven. But of course, the sun doesn’t stream through the windows much here in January, and– let’s be honest– kids generally have a way of needing something every 15 minutes. So I often have to be more realistic, and for that I love turning to one-pot meals. This white chili is a great meal that doesn’t require much attention. It’s hot, healthy, delicious, and best of all, mostly tends to itself. Perfect for a cold Sunday afternoon when you’re busy playing inside, or (lucky you) when you get a chance to just settle into the couch with a good book.
We eat more than our fair share of chili here in the cold months. I like that it’s relatively healthy, and that I get a chance to experiment with different ingredients and flavor combinations. Last weekend I made a batch with cubed beef, dark chocolate, toasted cumin seed, an oyster stout beer, and dried ancho chiles that I toasted and ground myself. Loved it! But enough about that (for now). Today’s recipe is for my favorite version of white chili. I prefer this style to not be too heavy. If you’ve ordered it in a restaurant, you probably know what I’m talking about. To get the right consistency, I smash a few of the beans as a thickener, and then use evaporated milk to give it a nice creaminess. The chickpeas have a wonderful, firm texture that holds up well, while the white cannellini beans add a nice silkiness. The combination is sublime. A generous squeeze of lime into the pot for the finish gives it vibrancy and freshness.
The Recipe: White Chili
(serves at least 4)
1 pound chicken breast, cubed OR about 2 cups shredded roasted chicken (see note 1)
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large white onion, chopped
1 jalapeño, finely chopped
1 large poblano pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/3 cups dried chickpeas, soaked OR two 15 ounce cans (see note 2)
1 1/3 cups cannellini beans, soaked OR two 15 ounce cans (see note 2)
1 quart chicken broth
3 tablespoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 can evaporated milk
juice of 1/2 – 1 lime, to taste
kosher salt and cracked black pepper
cilantro, lime, green onions, and white cheddar cheese for garnishes
Note 1: If you choose to use shredded roasted chicken, do not add it to the chili immediately or it will fall apart. Add it after you purée some of the beans near the end of the cooking time. Make sure it has enough time to warm through.
Note 2: Soaking the beans overnight in the refrigerator is one way to prepare the beans ahead of time. However, if that isn’t possible, place the dried chickpeas and cannellini beans in a large pot and cover with a few inches of water and a couple teaspoons of salt. Bring the water to a boil. Cover and remove from heat and let sit for at least two hours. At this point, check the beans for doneness. If they are not quite done, you may want to bring them back to a boil once again for a few minutes to soften up a bit more (I find that the chickpeas take a little longer). If you add them to the chili and they are not fully tender, they will soak up a bit more of the liquid. When they are your preferred texture, drain and set aside.
In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. When it is hot, add the chicken and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Brown for a few minutes until cooked through. Remove the chicken from pan. To the same pan add a bit more olive oil, if necessary, and the poblano pepper, jalapeño, onions, and garlic. Sauté for a few minutes until somewhat tender. Return the chicken to the pan, along with the cumin and coriander. Cook for 1 minute and then add the chicken stock, chickpeas and cannellini beans. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low-medium and cook for about 30 minutes – 1 hour. More if the beans need extra time to soften, less if they don’t.
When the texture of the chili seems right to you, remove about 1 1/2 cups of beans from the pot and place in a shallow bowl. Use a fork to smash the beans and make smooth. This will help thicken the chili naturally. Return the smashed beans to the pot. Add the evaporated milk and cook uncovered for a few minutes longer. Add the juice of 1/2 of a lime to start, and more if you choose. Taste and re-season with salt and pepper, if necessary. Enjoy!
Thanks for stopping in today! xo