The pickle man

Sunday, January 30, 2011

White Bean Chicken Chili

This is one of my favorite things to have in the freezer... and perfect to cook on a rainy Sunday.

I started out with a Paula Deen recipe (available here). But I've made a few changes along the way.

First, I always, always double this recipe.  For marginal extra effort, I get enough to put in 3 quart bags in the freezer.  Plus, my sister is having a baby soon, so I'm stockpiling for her.

Second, I use Great White Northern beans instead of Navy Beans.  Great Whites are a little creamier - not so starchy.

Also, I soak my beans overnight.

After the beans have soaked, I put them in a large pot, with about 10 cups of chicken stock.  I freeze quart bags of homemade stock when I boil chickens for gumbo and other things, but if you don't have any, canned is fine.  I also love the boxed broth because you don't have to use all of it at once.

I turn the heat on medium under the beans and stock, and while that heats up, I melt some butter in a separate skillet and dice two or three onions.

In a separate saucepan from the beans, I melt 1 stick of butter.
THEN I chop up the onion.  I use 2 medium yellow onions.
If you have a super tiny kitchen with absolute no counter space, I highly recommend a cool chopping block that covers part of the sink.  My husband (who benefits most directly when I cook) gave me this one last year.  Love. 
Alright, just for the novice cooks out there, I'm going to demonstrate the easiest way to chop an onion.  Seriously, this will make this recipe a lot easier.  Or you can just use your food processor, but I can chop onions like this in less time than it takes me to clean the food processor. 

Start by lopping the very top off the onion.  But leave the hairy root end ON!

Next, chop the onion in half, down the prime meridian - NOT the equator!

Peel one half (again, leaving the root intact), and place it cut side down. 

Make vertical slices into the onion, like this. 

Don't cut all the way to the root.  It will hold all the pieces together for you. 

Then, simply turn the onion and chop the other way.  Makes a perfect dice :)

If you are trying to get every last bit out of your onion, turn it again so the root is pointing up toward you, and chop a bit more. 

OK, now you have a nice, lovely pile of chopped onion. 

Saute the onion in the butter until it is soft.  This takes about 10 minutes.

Then add the garlic (I use the stuff out of the jar) and 3 cans diced green chiles.

Saute another 5 minutes (while dicing chicken - see below). 

While the stuff in the pan is smelling more and more amazing, I chop up the chicken breasts.  This works best of the chicken is slightly frozen, so I'll stick it in the freezer on the cutting board, or, if I'm using frozen chicken, I won't let it defrost all the way.

Dicing chicken is really not fun.  This is not a recipe for people who get freaked out by raw chicken.  You want the chicken pieces to be about the same size as the beans.  And make sure your baby is really really down for the nap before you do this.

First, trim your breasts of the fat, gristle, and other not-so-appetizing bits.

Then, slice it into, well, slices.

  Then dice those.

Put them in a bowl and dump the following seasonings on top:
2 Tablespoons ground cumin, 2 Tablespoons dried oregano, 2 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp ground cayenne or red pepper, 1 large pinch red pepper flakes.  The original recipe calls for white pepper instead of red, but I don't really like the flavor as much, and I rarely have it on hand.

Hopefully by now, your beans and stock are boiling.

Put everything in the pot with the beans - chicken, onion mixture, spices

It won't look pretty, but that's OK.

Now the easy part - let everything cook for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally and adding salt toward the end, if you need to.  It will depend on how salty your chicken broth is.
Then serve it in your favorite Mexican bowls :)
I inherited these from my grandmother.

This will thicken upon standing... and thicken even more upon freezing. 

It's great served with cornbread (see New Year's Day post for the corn bread recipe).

Oh, and I always freeze at least half of this in two or three 1 quart Ziploc bags.  If you don't overfill the bags, they will freeze flat for easy storage.  I reheat a bag on a weeknight by putting it in the sink and running hot water over it until it is soft enough to be squeezed out of the bag and into a microwaveable bowl. Sometimes I have to add water if it's too thick.  It's ready in about 15 minutes, which is less time than it takes me to do takeout with 2 kids :)

Condensed Recipe - this is the doubled recipe.  To serve six, half it. 

  • 2 pounds dried Great White Northern beans
  • 12 cups chicken stock (homemade if you have it)
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic 
  •  3 cans green chiles
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground red pepper
  • Pinch red pepper flakes 
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish, if desired.


Rinse beans well, cover with cool water, and soak overnight. Drain. Put the beans in large pot with 10 cups of chicken stock and bring to a boil over high heat.

In a saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic and chiles and saute for 5 minutes. Add chile mixture to pot with beans. Add the chicken, cumin, oregano, pepper, red pepper, and red pepper flakes. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 2 hours, adding more stock as necessary. Serve with cornbread, if desired.

1 comment:

  1. YUM. This is all I want right now. I think I'm going to make it tomorrow.