Thursday, July 25, 2013

For Benjamin Boyd: White Bean Chicken Chili with Cilantro

I have no picture of this yet, but since you wanted it, here it is!

The first time I made white bean chicken chili was for a ladies get-together here on the hill.  I made two enormous crockpots, but in the rush of cleaning and baking and preparing, I didn't even taste it before people spooned it into their bowls.   When I finally sat down with a bowl and commented on how bland it was, a guest politely suggested I add more salt and top it with cheese.  You see, in my rush, I had forgotten to add any salt.  Everyone had already finished most of their bowls, and I felt like a complete idiot.

Never again, folks.

The second time I took it for a meal with friends, I wrote down what I threw in, I tasted it before leaving, and, by golly, I added salt.

Here you are, Boyd.

White Bean Chicken Chili with Cilantro

- 4 cups dried Great Northern beans, cooked until soft and drained

-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, boiled until done and then shredded with a fork

- bean broth and chicken broth (or water from boiling the chicken breasts + bouillon) for the soup base
 - 4 tbsp. butter and a bit of extra virgin olive oil
-2 medium onions
- about 8 cloves fresh garlic, pressed or minced
- around 6 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups whole milk
 - 8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated

- 1/4 cup fresh, chopped cilantro
- 1 tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped
- 1 - 2 tsp. salt
- 1 - 2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/4 - 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- a dash of chili powder
- ground cayenne, to taste
- about 4 cups corn (I used stuff frozen from last summer)

*additional grated cheese and chopped cilantro for garnish, if desired.

1.  I usually use a mixture of chicken broth (or chicken cooking water + bouillon) plus some bean cooking water as my soup base, and then add the beans and shredded chicken.

2. Next, saute onion in the butter and olive oil until soft; add minced garlic and cook for another minute.

3.  Stir in flour and cook for about 30 seconds to start your bechamel.  Add the milk and whisk until all flour lumps are dissolved (onion and garlic lumps will still be there!).  Cook over medium heat until thickened and bubbly, stirring constantly, and then add the grated cheese.  Stir until melted.

4.  Add bechamel (cheese sauce) to the bean and soup base and add spices.  Add corn and heat through.  Taste and adjust spices, as desired.  DON'T FORGET THE SALT.

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