Brrr … it’s cold outside! It’s the coldest it’s been this winter here in Cincinnati, so that can only mean one thing:
Of course, with the Super Bowl coming up, I’m sure you’re also trying to find crowd-pleasing recipes—and let me tell you, this Southwestern White Bean Chicken Chili is it!
I’ve been thinking about chili for awhile now (is that weird? I sometimes think about recipes for weeks before I make them), and I really wanted to make something lighter than a traditional all-beef chili but with all the full, well-developed flavors that make us love chili in the first place. Sounds like a good plan, right?
I started with a recipe from the ever-trusty magazine, Cook’s Illustrated, and built on it by roasting bone-in chicken breasts in the oven (or you can use a rotisserie chicken from your grocery store—even easier!) to produce tender, moist, easily shreddable chicken. I had a lot of extra aromatic vegetables lying around—carrots, celery, and bell peppers—and I knew they would really round out the flavors of this chili, so I added them to the three chile peppers that make this a Southwestern chili: jalapeno, poblano and Anaheim chiles.
If you’re afraid of spicy-hot things, as I once was, let me tell you that these chiles do not make this chili overly spicy-hot, or even hot at all. Instead, because all of their stems and seeds are removed, the chiles give great depth of flavor to this chili, without the sweat-inducing heat.
(Am I confusing you with all this talk about chiles and chili? In my understanding, chile refers to a chile pepper and chili refers to the much-loved meat-based stew. Although, to make things complicated, many folks use the words interchangeably. Got it? Good. Moving on … )
Another chef-y trick I use to pump up the chicken flavor of this chili is to use the chicken fat (aka schmaltz) leftover from roasting the chicken to saute the vegetables. And, if you’re really trying to get thrifty, you can freeze the chicken bones left after you shred the chicken and use them for making chicken stock at another date. In the kitchen, nothing should go to waste if you can help it.
The last trick I use in this chili was one I borrowed from Cook’s Illustrated: After sauteing the vegetables, I pureed 1 cup of them with 1 cup of cannelini beans and some chicken stock to make a cream-less creamy base for our chili. The puree gave thickness and body to the chili without adding additional fat.
My husband absolutely adored this chili, so it’s moved up the list to become our new favorite chili recipe. I hope it will be yours too!
Southwestern White Bean Chicken Chili
Despite all the chiles used in this recipe, the final flavor is quite mild. You can leave the stems and seeds in the jalapenos to increase the spiciness, or you can simply serve the chili with hot sauce on the side. Serves 6. This dish is just as good the next day, and it freezes well for up to 3 months. Serve with warm cornbread for a wintertime feast. This recipe is adapted Cook’s Illustrated. Click here to download the handy printable.
2.5–3 pounds raw bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, or 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
1 small carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
2 onions, any kind, roughly chopped
1 bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, deveined, and roughly chopped
2 poblano chiles, stemmed, seeded, deveined, and roughly chopped
1 large jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded, deveined, and roughly chopped
1 Anaheim pepper, stemmed, seeded, deveined, and roughly chopped
6 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1½ teaspoons coriander
½ teaspoon chili powder
2 (15 oz.) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 large jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded, deveined, and minced
¼ cup fresh lime juice
¼ cup chopped cilantro
Sour Cream, for garnish
Shredded cheddar, for garnish
Chopped green onion, for garnish
Jalapeno hot sauce, optional
- Preheat oven to 400˚F. Place the chicken breasts in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or on a sheet pan. Rub chicken breasts all over with salt and pepper, and lightly coat with olive oil. Roast the chicken fat side up in the oven until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160˚F, about 25-35 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken breasts. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Leave the chicken fat in the pot, or pour the chicken fat into a large pot if you used a sheet pan. Scrape up any browned bits that you can and add them to the pot to make the chili.
2. While the chicken roasts, combine the chopped carrots, celery, onion, bell pepper, poblano, jalapeno, and Anaheim chiles in the bowl of your food processor. Pulse until the vegetables are the consistency of a chunky salsa, about 10 seconds.
3. Set the large pot with the chicken fat over medium heat (if there’s not enough fat to coat the bottom of the pan, add some olive oil). Add the chopped vegetable mixture to the pot, as well as the minced garlic, cumin, coriander, and chili powder, and a big pinch of kosher salt, and sauté until the vegetables are tender, about 7-10 minutes
4. In the same food processor bowl, combine 1 cup of the sautéed vegetable mixture, 1 can of drained and rinsed cannellini beans, and ½ cup of the chicken stock. Process until the mixture is a smooth puree.
5. Add the bean and vegetable puree back to the vegetables in the pot, along with the rest of the chicken stock and the other can of cannelloni beans. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and let the mixture simmer gently for 10-12 minutes, until it’s reduced by about one quarter.
6. While the chili base simmers, remove the cooked chicken from the bones and shred the meat. Your house should smell awfully good now. Once the chili has reduced, stir the shredded chicken into the chili. Let the chili simmer for another 15-20 minutes to allow the chicken warm through and for the flavors to meld. Stir in the lime juice, the chopped cilantro, and the minced fresh jalapeno. Season the chili to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish the chili with shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped green onion, and jalapeno hot sauce, if desired.