Some people may think it’s weird to make your own birthday dinner. For me, I enjoy it, it’s the best way to make sure you get what you want to eat, exactly how you want it on your special day. Plus I just love cooking, it makes me happy! This Wednesday I celebrated my birthday! Rather than going out to a restaurant, we decided after having house-guests the past two weekends and eating many meals out, we were both sick of it and we were looking forward to a meal at home.
Mark offered to take me out, but I insisted that I wanted to cook something myself, a dish that has been on my mind for a while now. We had a 4-lb pasture-raised chicken in the freezer from a local farmer and rather than our usual grilled or roasted whole chicken, I wanted to do something a little bit different. I thought a delicious white chili was the perfect way to enjoy the chicken and get the most out of it.
When I told Mark I was making a chicken chili, he was really excited about it, but when he saw this “white chili” as I was serving it, he got confused and I think he was a tad worried it wasn’t going to be good since, it looked so much different then the chili I usually make. Just a few bites in, he asked if I could make a badge for my site to put on certain recipes that reads “This is Mark Approved”. Not a bad idea. He loved this one and immediately decided it’s better than the traditional “red” chili of mine, that he loves so much.
I first started by making my own stock using the whole chicken, cut up into pieces. If you don’t want to do this, use store-bought broth and cook up a couple of chicken breasts or maybe a breast and a thigh. I just find the flavor from homemade stock completely takes things to a different level.
The masa harina (or corn flour) is definitely optional in this recipe, I just started adding it to my regular chili last year sometime and I love how it not only thickens it, but it also brings a nice complimentary flavor to the chili. You can also just puree a cup or so of the beans, right at the end, to create a thick creamy paste. This will also thicken it up the chili. However, additional thickening isn’t totally necessary either, it gets quite thick on it’s own. Additionally, the yogurt at the end is also option, I just like the little bit of tart creaminess it adds to this chili, you can skip it and just dollop it on top instead or if you are dairy-free, just go without. I ate some both ways, with and without any dairy and although the creaminess is really nice, it is just as good without, too!
I know there are a lot of approximations in this recipe, optional ingredients and room for you to make your own selections. I personally love recipes like that, there is tons of opportunities for you to tweak this recipe and make it your own. If you prefer one type of pepper over another, go for it. If you want less heat, leave peppers and some of the spices out. If you don’t like cumin, just add more of the either dried spices. If you are dairy-free, leave off the yogurt or sour cream. Recipes like this are really easy to play with and change as you go. It is pretty hard to screw this up.
If you were making your own birthday dinner, what would you make for yourself?
[print_this]Chicken and White Bean Chili – (Gluten-free + Dairy-free)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 – 1 1/2 cups of various chilies and peppers, seeded and diced*
- 1 pound dried Cannellini or Great Northern Beans, soaked for approximately 8 hours, drained and rinsed
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chile powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less to your taste)
- red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle powder (optional, I just love the smokey flavor)
- 7 cups chicken broth, if using store-bought, choose low sodium
- sea salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 1/2 lbs cooked chicken, shredded
- 1 cup frozen organic corn
- 3 tablespoons non GMO masa harina or corn flour dissolved in 1/4 cup water (optional)
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup goat milk yogurt or cultured sour cream (optional)
- 1 large handful fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
options for serving:
fresh cilantro, fresh lime juice, yogurt or sour cream, hot sauce, shredded cheese, etc
*A note on the peppers and chilies: I went with 1 large poblano, 2 red jalapenos from my garden and 1 – 4 ounce cans of diced roasted green chilies. If you want less heat, choose bell peppers. A hatch chili pepper would be really nice, as would an Anaheim pepper, serrano, etc. Go with a combination of what you like and what kind of heat you are looking for. Even with two jalapenos, there wasn’t too much heat in mine.
If using a whole chicken, cut the chicken into pieces and start your stock as you normally would, covering the chicken in water. Adding in an onion, celery, garlic, salt and pepper (I added one dried chipotle pepper for extra smokey flavor). Bring to a boil and cook the stock for about 30 minutes, skimming off any foam along the way. At around 30 minutes take each chicken piece out and remove the chicken off the bones, then add the bones back to the pot. Shred the chicken. Cover it and put it in the fridge until you are ready for it. Continue simmering the stock as usual, for at least an hour, until it’s ready. You are looking to have at least 7 or 8 cups of broth for this chili. I had that and then some from a 4-lb chicken.
Chili Instructions: Once you are ready to start making the chili, heat up 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over a medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, garlic and peppers and saute for 5-7 minutes until the onions are translucent.
Add the spices, but put in very little salt at this point (salt can affect the cooking of the beans, so most of your salt once they are done cooking). Give it all a good stir and let it cook another minute or so. Add the chicken broth and the white beans. Bring to a boil. Once boiling take the heat to a medium-low and place the cover on and cook covered for 1 1/2 up to 2 1/2 hours, stirring every once in a while. You don’t want it boiling, so you may even take the temperature to low, if need be.
You beans can take much longer than that if they are older, so make sure to give yourself enough time. Dried beans can be tricky like that. You are looking for the beans to be tender and creamy but don’t boil them or overcook them and turn them into mush.
Once the beans are close to cooked but with a little bite yet, add in the shredded chicken to let it finish cooking. It will continue to shred more as it is cooking, so don’t stress about shredding it perfectly. Give the chili a quick taste at this point and add more sea salt and pepper, to taste. Allow it to finish cooking with the lid on.
When it’s ready, dissolve the masa with the hot water in a small bowl. Make sure there are no lumps. If you don’t wish to add masa you can just skip it altogether, or grab a cup or two of the beans and process them in your food processor to make a creamy paste, this will also thicken the chili. You can also add in your yogurt at this point, if you are using it. This adds even more creaminess and adds just a hint of tartness.
Bring the temperature up to medium and allow it to simmer for 10-15 minutes, to allow the chili to thicken. Adjust any of your seasonings as needed. Just before serving, mix in a large handful of fresh cilantro.
Ladle into your bowls and top with fresh cilantro, freshly squeezed lime juice, shredded cheese, a dollop of sour cream or yogurt, hot sauce, toasted corn tortillas, etc. [/print_this]