Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Mom's Chicken Chili

We interrupt your regularly-scheduled holiday sugar rush with, well, chili.

White Bean and Chicken Chili.

I've been dreaming of this for a while now, and when I finally did make it it was like a fresh breeze through the haze of sweet, rich holiday fare. Tender chicken, hearty white beans, slightly spicy green chiles, all spiced with a hit of cumin and swimming in a flavorful broth.

It all starts in the crock pot, which is a very comfortable place to start in my view. If you're anything like me it's pretty rare to have plain cooked chicken hanging around, so I must cook it specifically for this purpose. I have a small slow cooker, which works perfectly for 2 or 3 chicken breasts and about a quart of liquid. Just right for this recipe. And while the chicken cooks in the crock pot, it also makes a lovely broth. Two for one! Of course, it doesn't have to go down that way. You can use up leftover chicken and store-bought stock (or even bouillon cubes -- no judgement here) and end up with something fabulous.

My mother's recipe, and still a favorite of mine. I hope you like it, too.

Mom's Chicken Chili

2 or 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
veggie or chicken stock
bay leaf
salt and pepper

1 Tbsp. oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. flour
more veggie or chicken stock, if needed
1, 4 oz. can green chiles
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
2, 14 oz. cans white beans (liquid and all)
more salt and pepper to taste

Place chicken in small crock pot, season with salt and pepper and pour over chicken or veggie stock to just cover. Sprinkle in some cumin (just a little -- no more than 1/8 tsp.), and drop in a bay leaf. Cook on high 3 or 4 hours (on low 5 or 6 hours), or until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken and dice, reserving liquid (discard bay leaf).

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion, a pinch of salt and pepper, and saute 5 minutes or so. Add in garlic and continue to saute for a minute or two more. Add flour to pan and cook until raw flour smell is gone. Stir in liquid from crock pot all at once, adding additional stock if needed to equal 3 cups. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and continue to simmer until thickened slightly. Add in chiles, cumin, beans and diced chicken. Heat through, taste and adjust seasoning. Serve.

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