Too Hot To Be A White Chili

Mmmmmmmm…Chili!! Where ever there’s a hot, steaming bowl of chili, there should also be a little happiness gnome next to it beckoning you to come hither and partake of it’s deliciousness. At least, that’s how I envision it in my head. That and a chili theme song playing in the background…

As if it wasn’t obvious, yes, I am a HUGE chili fan and have made my fair share of thrilling, savory, and hot concoctions in the past. Beer, bacon, ground beef, jalapenos, habaneros, poblanos, you name it, I’ve probably thrown it in there and stirred my vat of awesomeness with enough art and fervor to rival that of the Macbeth witches,

“Double, double toil and trouble
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble…oh yeah!”

But white chili was something that was totally foreign to me and, honestly, I hadn’t even heard of it till about a year ago while ordering takeout from Bare Bones. “White chili? What’s that? No tomatoes?? No red hotness? Say what?” After my incredulity had passed, my curiosity got the better of me and I ordered it…and I was pleasantly surprised.

Not exactly packing the same sort of heat and firepower as its crimson cousin, it was still pleasant and tasty. Using shredded chicken instead of your traditional beef, it was paired with a cream based broth, white beans, and green peppers to give it a bit of a kick. Unusual, yes, but still worthy of being added to the Chili Repertoire ™

So as usual, I attempted to recreate this magic in my kitchen. And honestly, I had every intention of keeping it true to form and making a white chili! Only one itty, bitty, small smidge of a problem…the fact of the matter is that we like it hot here in this household. If your lips don’t feel a little numb afterwards, you’re doing it wrong! Which led to a moment of clarity after making this several times…our chili is just too hot to be a white chili! Maybe a pink chili? I’ll settle for that…

Last but not least, the best way to enjoy this chili? With a nice glass of porter. We chose Arcadia Ales Shipwreck Porter, 2007 vintage. Aged in bourbon barrels, this has a wonderful and rich flavor with hints of sweet chocolate. The chili and chocolate combination here will rock your socks off…I promise!

Chicken and White Bean Chili

Adapted profusely from Bon Appétit 2002


1 pound dried small white beans (I used cannelloni)
1lb Poblano chili peppers (about 4)
4-5 slices of bacon
2 large onions, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/3 cup all purpose flour
4 cups low-salt chicken broth
3 cups half and half
4 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper

For garnish

Crumbled bacon (from above)
Chopped fresh cilantro
Shredded cheese
Sour cream


Place beans in heavy large pot with enough cold water to cover by at least 3 inches. Let stand overnight.

Char chilies over gas flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides. Enclose in paper bag; let stand 10 minutes. Peel and chop chilies (if you like it less spicy, seed before chopping). Set aside.

Drain beans. Return to pot. Add enough cold water to pot to cover beans by 3 inches. Simmer until beans are almost tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Drain well.

In a large pot, fry bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove, set aside on paper towels, and crumble when cooled, leaving grease in pot. Add onions, garlic, and red pepper to pot with bacon grease and sauté until tender, about 15 minutes. Add flour and stir 1-3 minutes (do not brown). Whisk in chicken broth and half and half. Simmer gently until thickened, about 10 minutes. Add reserved white beans, roasted chilies, shredded chicken, chili powder, hot pepper sauce, cumin, cayenne, liquid smoke, salt, and pepper. Mix thorough and simmer gently to blend flavors, about 20 minutes. Feel free to sample, and add additional spices according to taste — we added an additional tbsp of chili and 1/2 tbsp of cayenne, but we like it hot.

Ladle chili into bowls and garnish with crumbled bacon, grated cheese, sour cream, and cilantro as desired. Serve and enjoy!

Note: Chili can be made 1 day in advance, and refrigerated.


~ by tastydesu on March 12, 2010.

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