As promised, I tried the White Chicken Chili recipe from the January 2007 issue of Cook’s Illustrated for my family pre-Christmas dinner. Everybody loved the chili — it worked great with cornbread — but I had to make a few adjustments to the recipe as a I cooked to get it to better suit what I was looking for in a chili. Since I’ve altered the recipe, I feel like I can publish it here. Note that I haven’t fully tested all of the adjustments. So if you try it and have further improvements, please post them in the comments, because this is definitely a recipe I want to incorporate into my regular repertoire.
White Chicken Chili
Time to make: ~1 hour
- 2 lbs. bone-in chicken breast, seasoned with salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 2 poblano chiles, coarsely chopped
- 2 anaheim chiles, coarsely chopped
- 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
- 1 minced jalapeno
- 6 garlic cloves, pressed
- 1 tbsp. cumin
- 2 tsp. Southwest seasoning
- salt to taste
- 2 cans cannellini (white navy beans)
- 2 cups chicken stock
- lime wedges, minced scallions, minced jalapeno and shredded cheddar to garnish
- food processor
- Heat the oil in a dutch oven over medium-high
- Brown the chicken on both sides, about 4 minutes per side
- Remove the chicken to a plate and let cool; discard the skin
- In a food processor, process together the chiles and onions to the consistency of salsa
- Return the pot over medium heat
- Add the chile mixture to the pot with the jalapeno, garlic and seasoning
- Cook, covered, 10 minutes
- Transfer half of this mixture to the food processor with half the beans and half the stock, and process until smooth
- Return the mixture to the pot with the rest of the stock
- Submerge the chicken in the mixture
- Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high, then reduce to medium and simmer until the chicken is done, 15-20 minutes
- Remove the chicken and take the meat off the bone, shredding the meat
- Return the shredded chicken to the pot along with the rest of the beans and heat through
- Serve with assorted garnishes
So, what did I do differently from the original recipe? First, I reduced the amount of chicken called for from 3 pounds to 2 pounds. I also reduced the amount of chiles from 3 jalapenos to 1, and from 3 anaheims and poblanos each to 2 each. (If you like your chili spicier, you may want to re-adjust these amounts.) Finally, I thought the chili was too liquidy with the 3 cups of chicken stock originally called for, so I reduced that to 2 cups. And I eliminated the cilantro, which is hard to get in the winter and I don’t really like anyway. We had 7 guests for dinner, and we still had 2-3 portions’ worth of leftovers with this recipe.
It is really useful to have a recipe for refried beans in your repertoire. Not only is this a good way to use up leftover cooked beans, but it also works fine with canned beans. Refried beans make a tasty side dish but can also be used to stuff burritos, as a filling for a Southwestern-style omelet or even as the basis for a bean dip. Mine are pretty low in fat and purely vegetarian. Seasoning amounts are guidelines, so adjust freely according to your tastes and heat preferences.
Time to make: ~20 minutes
- 2 cups canned or pre-cooked beans, drained and rinsed, liquid reserved
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
- ½ onion, diced
- 1 sprig epazote
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ tbsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne
- a dash liquid smoke
Heat the oil over medium. Saute the onion for 5 minutes. Add the epazote, garlic, seasonings and liquid smoke. Stir around to mix the spices and add the beans. Cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mash coarsely with a potato masher, if you like your beans chunky, or puree in the food processor, adding some of the bean liquid as needed to make the mixture smooth. Garnish as you like (see the note).
Notes: Pinto beans are traditional. I have also used kidney beans and black beans with good results. Cilantro, salsa, sour cream or plain yogurt, diced tomatoes, chopped green chiles and grated cheese are all appropriate garnishes.
The hearty scramble with stuff is a great Sunday breakfast dish worthy of placement on the Denny’s menu. It satisfies all of my requirements for a good recipe: it is quick and easy to make; it can be varied almost any way you like; and my husband always cleans his plate when I make it. This version serves 2, but doubling or even tripling is encouraged and allowed.
- Beat 4 eggs with salt, pepper and ¼ cup half-and-half
- Heat ½ tbsp. oil over medium-high
- Saute your filling ingredients:
- aromatics, such as onion or garlic
- vegetables, like mushrooms, peppers, spinach, zucchini or what have you got languishing in the crisper?
- crumbled or sliced sausage or ground meat (really yummy, but optional — I prefer Italian-style chicken sausage
when they’re browned, set aside
- Wipe out the skillet and melt ½ tbsp. butter over medium
This way, you only have one pan to clean and it’s already hot — genius!
- Add the eggs and stir with a rubber spatula, lifting and folding, to form large, loose curds
- Off the heat, fold in the pre-cooked filling, some shredded cheese and whatever else you may like to throw in there
This is a good chance to get rid of whatever bits and pieces may be hanging around in the refrigerator, such as scallions, fresh herbs, sun-dried tomatoes or roasted red peppers.
Chef’s tip: If while making the eggs, you crisp up some tortilla strips in a 400-degree oven until they get browned, then stir those into the eggs with some diced tomato, chiles (either canned or fresh) and cheddar cheese — voila! You’ve got huevos rancheros, my friend.