White Chicken Chili


Many years ago we used to participate in an annual Valentine’s Day Chocolate/Chili Cook-off at church. The men were supposed to make the chili and the women the chocolate. Not wishing to be confined to chocolate, I set about to create a chili recipe that could win. Also knowing that red chili dishes would all meld together in the judges mouths, I figured that a different sort of chili would stand out. I was right and this one took home the blue ribbon (really it was a gift card to McDonald’s – but still…). Technically, Scott won, because even though I developed the recipe, he actually cooked it. If memory serves correctly, I stood behind him (literally) and coached him through the entire process.

White Chicken Chili

2 cans navy beans, drained with liquid reserved
1 large onion, diced
¼ cup butter
¼ cup flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Tabasco, if you like a bit of kick
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
½ teaspoon white pepper, or to taste
two 4-oz. cans whole mild green chilies, drained and chopped
1 cup of cubed and cooked chicken breast

In a 6- to 8- quart dutch oven melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and cook until softened and just lightly browned, about 5 to 10 minutes. Whisk in flour, cumin and chili powder. Cook, whisking constantly, 3 minutes. Gradually add broth, half-and-half and reserved bean liquid, whisking constantly. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes, or until thickened. Stir in Tabasco, salt and pepper. Add beans, chilies and cubed chicken and cook mixture over moderately low heat, stirring gently, about 20 minutes.

If desired, garnish with shredded cheese, chopped cilantro, sour cream, and salsa. Crumbled up tortilla chips are good too.

Serves 4 to 6

If you are out of half-and-half use 1/4 cup heavy cream and increase the chicken broth to 1 3/4 cups.

p.s. I had a bit of a heavy hand when I added the chili powder for the batch in the photo. Okay, so maybe I even doubled the amount, but it was still good!

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