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White Chili

White Chili, you ask?  HUH?  Chili ain’t white!  Well, THIS one is!  The first time I ever heard of White Chili, I was a skeptic too!  But after the first bowl all those years ago, I was cured of my skepticism!  So I thought “White” Chili was appropriate for today when we were *supposed to* get some of that “white” stuff from the sky.  Turns out, it just teased us!  We got hit hard and fast this morning, but then it just quit and now there’s little evidence left behind that we got any at all, much to the chagrin of my ankle biters.

White Chili……..what in the cat hair is White Chili?  I was introduced to it by my Aunt Ann, my mom’s baby sister.  She’s a phenomenal cook and is always coming up with something new and nifty!  I get my love for casseroles from her!  She’s like the casserole QUEEN, or something!  Anyway, she was telling me about White Chili on the phone one day and I just couldn’t wrap my head around it cuz chili is NOT supposed to be white.  As she was explaining it, I snarled up my nose more and more.  It’s made with white beans instead of pinto/kidney/black beans like one would expect to find in regular chili.  And I am no white bean fan.  Just don’t love ‘em.  I know!  I know!  Not exactly what you expect to hear from a good little Southern girl.  But I don’t.  Never have.  Except my SIL’s and man, she can cook a pot of white beans.  But I digress.

So like the good little niece that I am, I wrote down the recipe thinking to myself, “I’m going to waste good chicken in this!”  That’s what I honestly thought!  I never dreamed that I and my family would all fall in love with it and like it as well as, or maybe better than, regular chili!  That’s how amazing it is!  And even better is the fact that it’s a really healthy dish!  White beans are full of fiber and are super-filling!  And the chicken is boneless, skinless, so it’s heart-healthy!  In figuring Weight Watchers points for this, I think their little recipe builder spit out a point-value of 5 for a serving of this.  This pot makes about 10 servings, give or take…..depending on how big a bowl you serve it in!

I really can’t extol the virtues of this chili any better, so let’s make some!  Did I mention it’s EASY?!  Gotta love easy! 

Here’s what you’ll need:

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Navy beans…..now the original calls for Great Northern beans.  But I happen to prefer Navy beans to the larger Great Northern beans.  Navy beans seem a little sweeter to me and I like them because they’re smaller.  But if you prefer Great Northern to Navy, God will forgive you and I will too!  Knock yourself out!  Chicken….boneless and skinless.  I happened to have some tenders in my freezer and they cook up in no time flat.  So that’s what I ended up using today.  But boneless and skinless is preferred to anything with skin, bones and dark meat.  God might still forgive you for using dark meat chicken, but I’d probably have a hard time.  ;o)  Just speaking the truth in love.  I don’t care for dark meat chicken.  Don’t be hatin’!  The rest is easy!  Seasoning Blend, Garlic, Oregano, Cumin, Cayenne Pepper, Ground Cloves and Chopped Green Chiles.  You’re practically done, man!

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Wash and sort the dried beans before you soak them.  That’s literally the most labor-intensive part of this recipe.  And you know what?  If you want to skip this step altogether and use canned white beans in your White Chili, I won’t tell a soul!  And at the end of the day, nobody will ever know the difference.  But if you DO use the dried variety, they have to be washed and sorted, then soaked.  If you don’t do all that, you’ll end up with some skanky beans or even rocks mixed in with your good stuff.  And that’s just no dang fun!  Once you’ve got them sorted, cover the beans with lots of water and let them soak a couple hours or overnight before making this. 

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While your beans are soaking, go ahead and boil your chicken.

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Now drain your plumped up beans.  And you might want to give them one more little once-over for any wayward strays that you missed before you soaked them.  Do you see the one little skanky bean I missed the first time?  He had to go!

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Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the broth.  Just set it aside on a plate to chop up later.

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Add the beans into the chicken stock you made from cooking the chicken and begin adding the rest of the ingredients.  There’s no particular order they have to go in.  This is the oregano going in.

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Seasoning Blend going in…….you’re certainly welcome to chop up your own fresh onions, peppers and celery.  But I was lazy and let someone else do the chopping for me!

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Now add the chopped green chiles.  I find green chiles to be fairly mild.  But then, I grew up eating jalapeno peppers with my scrambled eggs at breakfast.  So you really can’t judge by me.  The recipe calls for 1 can.  I added 3.  :o)  I love their flavor and really can’t detect any heat from them.  But some folks say they think these are hot.  You be the judge!

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Add the cumin.  I LOVE cumin!  Until I started making this chili, I’d never heard of or bought cumin before!  That was probably 15 years ago or so.  Since then, I’ve fallen head over heels in love with cumin!

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Next add the cayenne pepper.  If you can handle it!  Again, if you’re afraid of the heat, leave it out.  Or on the other hand, if you’re like my family and like some kick to your grub, put it in and add some extra!    I add double what the recipe calls for.

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Now add the cloves.  CLOVES?  In CHILI?!!?  I know!  You’re sitting there saying to yourself, “That poor Amy’s smokin’ crack again!”  Trust me on this!  The cloves absolutely MAKE this!  It’s such a subtle little hint of flavor in the background that leaves everybody at the table saying, “WHAT is that flavor I’m tasting?!” 

You’ll notice I didn’t add any salt and pepper.  I NEVER EVER EVER E.V.E.R. add salt to dried beans until they’re completely cooked.  Why?  Cuz my Moma told me not to.  Why?  Heck if I know.  But she always said never to add salt to dried beans until they’re completely cooked through.  She said it would make the beans harder to cook.  Now I have NO idea if that’s so or not.  But Moma said it, so I don’t add salt until the beans are completely cooked. 

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Finally, add the garlic.  And just let this simmer until the beans are tender.  It will probably take a couple of hours or maybe longer depending on how long you soaked your beans.

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Your chicken should be cool enough to handle by now.  So you can start chopping it up while the beans are cooking away.

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Chop it into bite-sized pieces before adding it to the beans.

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Now dump it all in and give it a stir.  You’re almost there!  Let it simmer about 30 minutes before serving.  If you need to add a little water, go right ahead.  It all depends on how thick or soupy you like your chili to be!

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Ahhhhh!  And there you go!  Plop a dollop of sour cream in the center and sprinkle with your choice of cheese.  Absolutely divine, I tell you!

White Chili

*  1 pound dry white beans, washed, sorted and soaked

*  1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast

*  1 bag frozen seasoning blend

*  1-7 oz. can chopped green chiles

*  1 Tbsp. minced garlic

*  2 tsp. cumin

*  1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano

*  1/4 tsp. ground cloves

*  1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

*  2 quarts chicken stock

*  salt and pepper to taste

Wash and sort dried beans.  Pick out any beans that are discolored or broken and discard them.  Put them in a large bowl and add enough water to cover 2″ above the beans.  Soak at least 2 hours or up to overnight.  Drain and rinse the beans before cooking.  Boil chicken and set aside when tender.  Strain chicken stock and return to stockpot.  Add dried beans, seasoning blend and spices.  Simmer at least 2 hours or until beans are tender.  Cooking time will vary depending on how long beans were soaked.  Chop chicken into bite-sized pieces.  Add to beans.  Add water or additional chicken stock if desired.  Simmer an additional 30 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste before serving.  Serve hot.

And that, friends and neighbors, is White Chili!  It’s absolutely insane!  Just add a chunk of cornbread or Mexican cornbread and dinner is DONE!  We like to add sour cream and a mix of Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses to ours.  But it would also be good with a dollop of fresh guacamole or some fresh chopped cilantro sprinkled on top.  It makes such a hearty, bone-warming meal!  I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we do!

And I hope you and yours are safe and warm!  As for me, I’m really enjoying this “snow” we got today!  :o)

2 Responses

  1. This looks really delicious … first time i heard of white chilli.. but it sure sounds good … Laila .. http://limeandlemon.wordpress.com

  2. Hey, Amy, you used my favorite brand of chicken. It’s the least “dead-bird” tasting chicken out there. My local store stopped carrying it, and I have to drive an hour to get it. Still worth it. LOL

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