White Chicken Chili

One myth about Texans is that we are snobby about chili and will only eat all-beef, no-bean, chili. Perhaps it is because I was born in Oklahoma (I only lived there three months, but perhaps those first three months are when the all-beef prejudice forms?) or perhaps it’s all the years I’ve spent in California, but I have no such compunctions. I love a good all-beef chili, mind you.  But I have no problem putting beans in it, or making it with ground turkey, and I freaking LOVE a good white chicken chili.  I made a big batch last month since Hatch chilies were in at my local Whole Foods, and y’all, last night I was at first excited just to have something to pull out and heat quickly for supper but then I was thrilled by how well it reheated- it was better than the fresh batch.  My husband finished it all, in fact, leaving me no leftovers.

This recipe is adapted from (who else) America’ Test Kitchen and is kind of fiddly. You can just use cooked shredded chicken if you want to skip all the browning and shredding and whatnot of the chicken.  (I also use chicken leg quarters instead of the chicken breast halves they recommend, because they are cheaper and more flavorful, but you can use whatever chicken parts you want.)

  • 3 lbs chicken leg quarters (bone in, skin on) or 2-3 cups leftover cooked chicken meat
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • an assortment of chilies- I made this w/6 Hatch chilies, but you can use Anaheim, poblano, whatever you prefer, and add in a jalapeno or two depending on how hot you want your chili
  • 2 med onions, quartered
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 cans cannellini beans, dried and rinsed
  • 3 c chicken broth
  • 3 tbsp lime
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 4 scallions, sliced thin
  1. Heat oil in large Dutch oven until just smoking. Season chicken w/salt and pepper. Cook chicken, skin side down, until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Turn and cook until light brown on other side. Transfer to plate and discard skin. (Obv., skip this step if you’re using cooked chicken.)
  2. Process your chilis and onion in your food processor until they are the consistency of chunky salsa. (America’s Test Kitchen wants you to do this in two batches but I don’t think that’s necessary unless you have a small food processor.) Keep your food processor out.
  3. Pour off all but 1 tbsp fat from dutch oven (or heat 1 tbsp oil if you did not cook chicken).  Add chile-onion mixture, garlic, cumin, coriander, and 1/4 tsp salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft- about 10 minutes.
  4. Transfer 1 cup of this mixture to food processor. Add 1 cup beans and 1 cup broth and process until smooth.  Return this mixture to dutch oven along with remaining 2 cups broth and chicken parts (but not if the chicken’s already cooked!) and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until chicken is cooked through. 15-40 minutes, depending on if you are using breasts or thighs.
  5. Remove chicken and transfer to a plate. Stir in remaining beans and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
  6. If you want extra spicy chili, now’s a good time to mince an extra jalapeno and set aside.  Shred your chicken or get out your already cooked shredded chicken. Stir chicken, lime juice, cilantro, scallions, jalapeno if you have it into chili. Simmer. Adjust seasonings and serve.

This serves 8, so I serve half of it and freeze the rest. I like it w/a little more lime juice and a dollop of sour cream.

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2 Responses to White Chicken Chili

  1. Nora says:

    Really liking this blog so far! And I want to make this as soon as it turns cool. I’ve only tried white bean chicken chili a few times and have never liked how it turned out but this looks like a winner.

    • hannahspector says:

      It’s the whole chicken that makes a difference. I’ve tried a lot of “quick” recipes w/ground chicken and it’s just not the same. (It’s gross looking, for one.)

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