Sunday, January 2, 2011

White Chickenless Chili (with or without chicken)

December 30th is my little Olivia's birthday. This year she turned two. I decided not to make a huge deal out of the day, with Christmas and New Years and all that jazz, so instead I made a big pot of this chili and invited people over to celebrate, last minute. It wasn't necessarily a party, but there were pink heart balloons and carrot cake with rainbow sprinkles and this chili with all the fixings, so I think we did a job well done, considering. Next year we will do it up right for my girl, but this year was so busy and so cold and so snowy that a low key stick-to-your-ribs chili dinner seemed appropriate.

I originally got the base for this recipe from my Aunt Jenny. It's good and calls for all the right stuff like cumin and onions, beans and lime, which I think of as truly Southwest. I tweaked a few things, added garlic and thickened it up a bit. My Aunt's was always really good and flavorful, but it was also really thin. Think beans in broth that sunk to the bottom. It needed to be thicker and it needed a little more salt. In the end, I added to the recipe rather than change it and it's better than ever. Honestly, this chili could proudly be served in any restaurant due to it's rich depth of flavor and I mean that.

Over here at the MacGray house we don't really eat meat, so I make this vegetarian. If you like it that way too, just tweak the recipe by adding 2 more cans of beans and no chicken. Also you can substitute vegetable broth for the chicken. It's delicious and honestly, we don't miss a thing. The vast array of toppings make it hearty and satisfying. We top ours with chunks of avocado, jack cheese, cilantro, sour cream, corn chips and fresh lime juice.

White Chicken Chili
serves 4

4 cups chicken stock
2 fat garlic coves, minced
4 tablespoons flour
1 small chopped onion
1 small can diced green chilies
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 pinch fresh nutmeg
1 teaspoon kosher salt
juice from 1/2 a medium lime, or to taste
2-15 oz. cans great northern beans and/or navy beans, drained
1 15-oz. can white kidney beans, drained
3 cups cooked shredded chicken (When I use it, I buy a rotisserie chicken. Grilled works too)
olive oil

Toppings: Chopped cilantro, grated jack cheese, sour cream, avocado chunks, corn chips and lime wedges

Heat a soup pot over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add onion and garlic and saute until onion is translucent and soft, about 5 minutes. Add the cumin, salt, nutmeg and flour and cook, stirring, for another minute (this is to cook the floury taste away). Add the can of green chilies, the beans, and chicken stock and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat down to a simmer and add the chicken and lime juice, stir and check for seasonings. Serve hot with all the toppings. Squeeze additional lime juice on your bowl of soup, if desired.

Notes: to make your soup thinner, add more chicken stock. If after adding the flour and adding your stock you want it thicker, still, make a roux. In a small saucepan melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of flour and stir together for 2 minutes, then add it to your chili pot while simmering, one tablespoon at a time until thickened to your desired consistency.

This chili thickens up more if refrigerated, so if you have leftovers you may need to add a bit more chicken stock to thin it out.

We are headed to an annual sledding party out at my friends parents ranch. They have it every New Years Day. Everyone is supposed to bring a dish and I lucked out this year because I have lots of leftover chili to take. Perfect really, since it's currently -14 out and we will all be wanting something hot!