Recipe Monday: Jessica’s White Chicken Chili

March 30, 2009 § 6 Comments


One of my top requested meals by my husband, my mother, my friend Ann, everyone, this high fat, high butter, high deliciousness creamy white chili has become a battered, torn and stained sheet in my recipe box.  How many times have i sat down with my little tin recipe box, determined to get it IN ORDER and THIS TIME I MEAN IT.  I make a move to transfer all my recipes onto a database on the computer or put them in a word document and print them out for index cards, or laminate them in a three ring binder.  But I never do it.  Is it laziness (yes, definitely, probably like 75% laziness)  But it’s also nostalgia.  I have recipes in there that my mother hand copied onto 3×5 cards when I went away to college, or when I got married.  They not only have the recipe, but helpful hints on the back:  “Aunt Helen’s Lasagnathis would be good with a big green salad!, Love Mom”  I have recipes torn from magazines that no longer exist, recipes written on notepads from old jobs.  My favorite, however, are the recipes I have written in my grandmother’s slanted, narrow script on the big, 4×6 index cards.  She always had a stack of them in a little seventies style desk caddy that sat next to her phone, made of smoky colored plastic, it was a series of tubes short and tall to hold pencils/pens/scissors/reading glasses and a section for notepads from Scot Forge (a ubiquitous place of employment in our family) and 4×6 notecards that she used for recipes and knitting patterns.  Sure it takes me twenty minutes everytime I want to find the recipe for mushroom pastry turnovers from Better Homes and Gardens, but I wouldn’t have my recipes any other way.

Back to the chili.  I got this recipe out of a magazine (Cooking Light?  Bon Appetit? Gourmet?  I don’t remember) about ten years ago and I’m surprised at how little I’ve deviated from it.  First and foremost, the original recipe called for the supreme idiocy of soaking dry beans over night and doing that whole shebang. If you’re going to make a soup, where the beans are simmered in a surrounding bath of flavors, I don’t see the need to use non-canned beans, but if you want to torture yourself, go crazy.  But if you don’t soak the beans, this only takes about forty minutes TOTAL!

Here’s what you need:

  • Between a pound and pound and a half of boneless, skinless chicken breast, poached until almost done and then sliced and diced into tinyness
  • 1 large yellow onion diced
  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 1/4 flour
  • 1  1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups light cream
  • the spices: cumin (ground or seed), chili powder, salt, black pepper
  • tabasco
  • 1 14 oz can Great Northern Beans drained and rinsed
  • 2 4 oz cans mild diced green chilis
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 big ol’ pot and a spoon

Melt the stick of butter over medium low heat in the pot and add the onions, sweating them down to a goldeny softness.  I usually add a little salt and pepper at this point, just to begin the layering.  After about three to five minutes of low heat add the flour.  We’re makin a roux here folks.  Don’t be afraid.

After you add that flour, you need to get your whisk on, whisking the onions and butter and flour until it becomes a golden paste.  It will be thick and bubbly and almost look like a cream sauce.  At this point add your chicken broth and light cream.  Whisk it constantly, but not frantically.  Just to keep it mixing, to get the roux evenly distributed.  It will thicken up fairly quick. 

There she is.  My camera, for some reason, was feeling somber.  I wasn’t using a flash, and the room was so bright I thought these would be the sunniest pictures in town, but they look like stills from a silent movie.  I usually let this simmer over super low heat for a few minutes while I get the other stuff ready, because frankly, we’re almost done and I always like to give flavors a chance to meet, mingle, get comfy, calm down and blend.  So maybe make your NICE GREEN SALAD now, or set the table.

Anyway, next add the cumin, chili pepper, pepper, salt and dash or 10 of tabasco.  Stir it in and let it simmer.

Now add your chopped chicken, green chilis and great northern beans.  Stir and let it simmer, particularly if your chicken was still a little pink in the middle and needs to cook through.  The reason I’m letting things bubble and simmer now is because when you add your cheese and sour cream, you don’t want to let it reach boiling point ever again.  NOT EVER!

At this point I’d adjust my seasonings (For me it usually means adding a touch more tabasco and cumin).  When you’re satisfied, add the shredded cheese and sour cream, stirring to melt it and distribute it throughout the soup.  Let it simmer, but not bubble, for another five minutes.

And then you’ve done it.  You’ve made Jessica’s White Chicken Chili. Enjoy and be proud of all you accomplished.


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§ 6 Responses to Recipe Monday: Jessica’s White Chicken Chili

  • allison says:

    i’m so glad to have this recipe. mom said i had to get chicken on the bone, but it looks like that is not the case. i think i will make it tonight- i have some boneless chicken breasts thawing in the fridge as we speak. i have no idea how to poach chicken, i’m assuming its a similar process to poaching an egg? i’ll go look it up now.

  • Meredith says:

    I’ll be honest. The whole “roux” situation scares me a bit.

  • donkeyinawhitecoat says:

    I guess I could have given directions on how to poach. I filled my stock pot with about three or four inches of water (deeper than the thickness of the chicken), added some salt and pepper and then heated it up to a low boil. Pop the chicken in. It’s cool because it changes color right away. I let it simmer (some bubbles, but not a RAGING boil) for about 10 minutes, or until I touch it and it’s firm to the touch.

    I never buy chicken on the bone because I have issues with “strong chicken” that I’ve elaborated on before, so I’m scared to veer away from Purdue boneless skinless.

  • allison says:

    well.i made it. and it was delicious. your right about layering/adding spices. i know all you experienced chefs can say “add some cumin, chili pepper, salt and pepper” and know what that means but i have no idea what that translates to. at first i added probably 1/2 teaspoon of each and it was not spicy at all, then i went nuts later and added a butt load of chili powder and tabasco- did the trick.i also used this cheese that we love- monterey jack with jalapeno. i will definitely do this again and again.

  • donkeyinawhitecoat says:

    YAY! I’m glad it worked out. Why you were making chili at 10:30 at night though, is another mystery. Once you learn these basics of layering ingredients, how to make a soup base, you can fly off in all directions and make up your own stuff you know? What’s to stop you from adding different vegetables or beans or something? I so rarely use recipes anymore (except for baking) and it’s so fun to make stuff up and see what happens

  • that is FUNNY! Thanks for stopping by.

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