Tuesday, September 20, 2011

White chicken chili

I love being first!  First place, first to reply to invitations, and first born (because I had so much say in that matter).  It can be a bit annoying at times... even for me.

But, most of the time I'm knocking down the door first is because I'm just so excited for that particular thing/event/person/whatever.  So, let me be the first to wish you a happy autumn!  Today the calendar still says summer, until Friday when fall begins.  And wouldn't it be nice to start the descent into cooler weather with a warm bowl of chili?

Uh huh, mm hmm.  I thought so.  White chicken chili for the win!  And cornbread muffins with oh-so-festive papers, circa last season at Target.  How cute are these?!

Like I said, incredibly excited, this time regarding holidays and food. 

To add to my already-overflowing bowl of excitement, I've kinda become obsessed with Pat and Gina Neely lately.  If you're not familiar, think Paula Deen as a married couple.  They are absolutely hilarious to watch, a perfect cooking ying and yang.

And, because it's the bottom line that really matters, their recipes are totally gratifying and yummy.  They wowed me with Pat's burgers.  And I've made a few other things not featured that were equally rockin'.  It may take some time to earn my culinary trust, but once you've got it, I'm yours for life, baby!

I love me a good bowl of chili, but chicken chili sounded a bit... off the reservation.  "Chili should be red!"  It was then that I thought back to that epic white lasagna with mushrooms and realized, hey, different is good!

One of the biggest selling points of chili, i.m.o., is that it comes together so quickly and gets better as it hangs out and marinates.  Day two chili is so much better than first day chili!

That being said, day one chili is delicious and soul-warming and better than no chili, obviously :)

And chicken chili is -- lo and behold -- totally amazing!!  Though I must admit that I've never made a batch of chili that I didn't absolutely love, but each one has been totally different.  Sweet, spicy, thick and satisfying, this particular round had it all. 

In case you're wondering, the sweet component comes from the crumbled corn muffin.  Some may prefer their muffins buttered, but I like mine crumbled atop the chili and mixed in for an even more decadent meal.  Don't forget about the crumbs on the muffin paper!

Have you ever stopped to think about chili?  I mean, really think about it.  Chili is a magical food.  How can something be so comforting and hearty and still so (gulp, I hesitate to use this word) healthy?

Don't waste your time asking why and save your breath.  Instead, turn that curiosity into excitement and dig into a big bowl of Gina and Pat's white chicken chili! 

White Chicken Chili
(adapted from the Neelys)
-makes 4-6 servings

A few notes: I made a few changes to the original recipe, namely omitting the jalapeno and tortilla chips, and adding some fresh-from-the-box corn muffins.  However, if you like your chili with a kick, like so many do, go for the jalapeno, maybe even two.

2 (14.5-ounce) cans white beans
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium jalapeno pepper, minced (optional)
2 medium poblano peppers, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
Ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon chili powder
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 limes, juiced
3 cups shredded cooked chicken
Sour cream, for topping (optional)
Cornbread, for serving (optional)

Drain and rinse the canned white beans. In a medium bowl, mash half of the beans with a potato masher or fork until chunky.  Reserve the beans until needed.

Add the canola oil to a large Dutch oven or stock pot and heat it over medium-high heat. Add the peppers, onions, and garlic and saute until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Season the vegetables with salt, and pepper, to taste. Add the cumin, coriander, and chili powder and continue to saute for 1 more minute to toast the spices. Stir in the chicken stock, and lime juice and bring to a simmer. Add the beans and continue to simmer for 20 more minutes.

After 20 minutes of simmering, taste for seasoning, and adjust if necessary.   Stir in the shredded chicken and cilantro and simmer until heated through, about 5 more minutes.  Serve the chili in individual bowls topped with a dollop of sour cream and crushed tortilla chips or, my favorite, cornbread.

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