You know why I like winter?
When people ask "What's your favorite food?" I should just say, "Comfort." Anything in that category is a winner. And it's a flexible category--the things that are on my list are different from those on other people's list. It's a personal thing. (And for a good example of someone else's list, see here.) My list would include pasta, potatoes, soups, stews, and this winter wonder: chili.
Warning: pictorially, this will be a dull post. Because I'm talking about white chicken chili, which is, well, rather dull and colorless. Bear with me. The taste certainly isn't dull. Oh--and for those who frequently wonder about the state of my arteries? I use an online recipe but with some changes so it's healthier. Not healthy, but healthier.
I make a change right off the bat. The recipe calls for soaking beans overnight. I never remember to do that, and I usually pull this recipe out an hour before dinner, so I substitute 2-3 cans of white beans instead. I like beans.
While I'm not soaking the beans, I saute some onions and garlic (note: the recipe doesn't call for garlic, but good grief, if you're going to use onion, why would you not use garlic??). Then, in my nice big chili pot, I make a roux.
That's just melted butter with flour whisked in. To that I add the sauted onion and garlic.
Mmmm...all that buttery/oniony/garlicy goodness! Yes, you can use margarine or butter substitute instead. It'll be fine.
Once this is nicely blended, it's time to add some liquid. Here's where I make a startlingly healthy change to the recipe. The online version calls for 3/4 cup chicken broth and 2 cups half-and-half. Not necessary! I use 2 cups chicken broth, and the canned nonfat version is just fine, and I use 1/2-3/4 cup half-and-half, the fat-free version. Again, just fine.
Now that I have a base, I simmer it for a few minutes until it thickens. Then it's time to add some spices (and some much-needed color to this post):
The recipe calls for 1 teaspoon Tabasco, 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and ground white pepper. Those piddly amounts make me snort in derision. You can bet I easily double or triple those every time I make this, and trust me, it's never really spicy.
Finally, the heart of the dish:
Cooked chicken, two cans of diced green chilies, and Monterey Jack cheese. Remember: I said this dish could be made healthier. You can sacrifice fat and calories elsewhere, but you really need the cheese.
How you come up with the chicken is up to you. I poached some chicken breasts and diced them. You could broil them. You could buy the precooked chicken in the little, exorbitantly expensive package in your grocer's freezer section. You could use leftover deli chicken. Whatever. Dark meat would be fine too. I just happened to have a lot of chicken breasts after a stock-up trip to Costco.
Anyway, you stir all that stuff in and let it simmer gently for 20 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of sour cream (low-fat is fine), and--voila!
White chicken chili! It's so good, so comforting, tastes great out of the pot, leftover the next day, or it can be frozen and eaten later. A friend tells me she purees most of the beans so her kids won't pick them out. That's a sound strategy, but one I've been too lazy to try.
There'll be no Friday food next week, because--duh--we all know what we'll be eating. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!