Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cheating, Easy, White Chicken Chili

So, I made the white chicken chili that I talked about last time and it turned out exactly as I thought it would, good in an okay sort of way. I think this chili is perfect as a weeknight throw together type dinner and that is why I'm choosing to write about it. I realize that not everybody has the time or patience to cook every single night and I also see that in this economy we are all trying to pinch pennies and eat at home as much as possible. This chili is a great solution to both. I made this, oh, I don't know, last Friday? It was a hit with the rest of my family and I admit it was pretty darn good for what it was. Like I mentioned before in my last post, this chili requires no real cooking to be had. The only thing you have to do that is labor intensive is grate some cheese, chop 2 cloves of garlic and that's it! Everything else just gets opened up and dumped into the pot. It's quite remarkable actually. I saw this dinner on an episode of the Rachael Ray show. The episode was about the most requested dishes of the whole year. If you don't know already or are not familiar with the show, Rachael makes food like she does on her other cooking shows on Food Network and calls the segment "what's for dinner tonight?" At the end of last year they took the top 10 most downloaded recipes and highlighted them. One of those recipes was for this white chili, I imagine, for it's simplicity and good combination of ingredients. Rachael didn't make this one up though. It was shown to her by a viewer of the show named Mandy Forester and so, fittingly, this dishes proper name is "Mandy Forester's White Chicken Chili".

It takes maybe 10 minutes to make and another 10-15 minutes to heat through so we are looking at a 30 minute meal. This chili tastes Mexican because it has cumin in it. It's also got a kick. My kids ate it with no problems but they like spicy food. If you have children or sensitive eaters I would recommend using a mild salsa ( I used medium) and use half cheddar cheese and half pepper jack. I do not recommend subing out all of the pepper jack cheese for cheddar because the pepper jack tastes awesome and ties in with all the Mexican flavors so well. Also, I didn't use as much cheese as the recipe calls for. It calls for a whole 8oz block of grated pepper jack cheese. I used about 5oz. I don't think you need much more than that. I also needed about a cup of tortilla chips, crushed, to thicken the soup to my liking instead of the called for 1/2 cup. If you like it thicker, put in more crushed tortilla chips. I should point out that I made this vegetarian. That is, I put in an extra can of beans and didn't buy the rotisserie chicken to shred into it. It was still very good. Chicken would have been better though, I think. I don't know because I usually pick around the chicken in soups so I can't say for sure. Another thing is don't drain the beans. leave them in their juices when you pour them into the pot. It helps thicken the chili and adds extra liquid.

White Chicken Chili
Adapted from The Rachael Ray Show and Mandy Forester

1 32-ounce box chicken stock
3 cans white beans, left un-drained ( I used white kidney and navy beans)
1 chicken, shredded (rotisserie or boiled)
1 16-ounce jar salsa (whatever heat you prefer)
1 8-oz block pepper jack cheese, grated
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, chopped
black or white pepper to taste
1/2 to 1 cup finely crushed corn chips

6 servings

Place all ingredients except the corn chips in a crockpot or in a stock pot. If using a crockpot, cook on high until all the cheese is melted and then add in the chips before serving and stir until thickened. If using a stockpot, heat through on the stove top over medium heat until cheese is melted through, then add the corn chips and stir to thicken.

I topped mine with chopped avocado chunks and cilantro. We ate it with chips for dipping too. You could also top it with sour cream. Notice that you put the shredded cheese right in the pot along with all the other ingredients. It's not for putting on top of the chili. That's not common, but it worked and tasted good. I like that there is salsa right in the chili that has all the diced onions right in it so there is no need to chop more yourself. I really like that.