White chili was one of my first successful attempts when I began teaching myself how to cook. Now I try to make it at least a couple of times a year. In all the time since, that original recipe has taken on a life of its own.
I am particularly attached to the evolved version, but since chili is often nothing more than “a bit of this” and “a dash of that,” I have never taken the opportunity to put this favorite into writing until now.
I made an especially delicious batch last Thanksgiving using leftover turkey, to great fanfare from my relatives. When my brother-in-law declared it to be a new annual tradition, I realized I had to get it down on paper. For my family’s sake, I finally took the time to note every detail, from ingredient measures to cooking time, and to taste (and taste) the chili until it had been tweaked to perfection.
This recipe is really good right off the stove, but it keeps getting better if you are willing to wait. Use a heavy hand when you season – now is not the time to cut back on salt, be sure to grind in plenty of black pepper. It serves a family or makes dinner plus plenty of leftovers for a household of just two.
Serves 6-8.3 tablespoons olive oil 1 sweet onion, diced small 1-2 stalks celery, diced small 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced small 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced 1 (4-ounce) can fire-roasted green chilies 3-4 cloves garlic, minced 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 / 2teaspoon ground chili powder 1 / 4teaspoon cayenne, plus more to taste 6 cups chicken stock 2 (15.8-ounce) cans white beans, such as Great Northern or cannellini 2 cups fresh or frozen yellow corn (thawed if frozen) 4 cups cooked, shredded chicken (or turkey) 1 1/2 teaspoons Tabasco Sauce 6 tablespoons unsalted butter 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour 3/4 cup whole milk (or heavy cream) Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste Sour cream and grated cheddar, for serving
Heat olive oil in a large heavy stock pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper and jalapeno, and cook until very soft, about 8-10 minutes. Add the green chilies, garlic, cumin, chili powder and cayenne; saute for an additional minute or two.
Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the white beans, corn, chicken, Tabasco and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about an hour.
Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook the roux for 1-2 minutes. Pour in the milk and continue whisking until a thick paste forms, about 2-3 more minutes. Stir the paste into the chili until it is completely incorporated and there are no lumps.
Continue cooking the chili over low heat, stirring occasionally, for another 45 minutes to an hour. Season to taste, using a generous hand, with additional salt, black pepper and cayenne. (Once it’s done, I like to turn it off for a few hours, and then heat it again before serving. The flavor and texture just keeps getting better with time.)
Serve chili with sour cream, freshly grated cheddar and additional hot sauce on the side.
Nealey Dozier is a writer for TheKitchn.com, a national blog about food and home cooking.