This is not your average chicken and white bean chili. Chicken and white bean chili happens to be my favorite kind of chili – and I’ve made it lots of times and have always been happily satisfied with what is usually a lighter-colored version, often with green chilis (mmmm, green chilis), cilantro and lots of cheese. It’s always delivered and I’ve always felt pretty darn good about myself for making it. And then I found this recipe over at Foodnetwork.com and my chicken and white bean chili-eatin’ life will never be the same.
Now that I’ve found this recipe, I’ll always make chicken and white bean chili like this from now on. It’s that much of a life changer. And when you’re deep in the middle of January, with no end to crappy wet weather, standing beside half melted piles of dirty snow, blackened from street dirt and lord-only-knows-what-else, waiting for a bus that seems to be taking forever – something this life changing and good provides warmth and hope for better weather to come. Something like this deserves to be celebrated - ok, that might be a little dramatic, but it will change how you feel about chili. And hopefully it will make you forget all about the crappy weather – at least while you’re making it.
You’ll want to start by roasting some peppers, which I forgot to take any pictures of. Dang it! You’ll also want to do a lot of chopping and dicing – onions, peppers and zucchinis. Best to do all this just before you start cooking the chicken, so you’ll have everything on hand and it will make the actual cooking part go a lot quicker. So get to chopping!
Next, you’ll get the chicken ready – cut it up into medium-sized chunks and toss with some fennel seeds, smoked paprika and flour. And trust me – the smoked paprika, as opposed to regular paprika – makes a big difference. And fennel seeds – they are perhaps best known for giving flavor to Italian sausage. They add another wholesome, yet understated, level of flavor to this dish as well.
Cook the chicken chunks in some olive oil over medium high heat until they’re caramelized and almost crispy. Cook them in single layers over several batches – this can be time consuming, so go ahead and treat yourself to a nice glass of wine. It can help make this part go by a lot quicker . . . it’s the little things.
Once all the chicken is cooked, set aside in a bowl nearby. Then sweat the onions and garlic, add some peppers if you didn’t roast them all and soften them up as well. Then add tomato paste, the chili powder and fresh chopped thyme. Once this is all combined, add in some of the wine (no need to drink it all before dinner, you big lush), bring this all to a simmer and then add in chicken stock, diced canned tomatoes and add back in the chicken.
From here you’ll want to let this simmer and work it’s magic. Cause what will happen here is the flour from the chicken and the tomato paste will start thickening everything slightly until it takes on a thicker chili consistency. See? Magic! Let it simmer for a good 45-55 minutes, until the chicken is falling apart and your house is rocking a dizzyingly (trying saying that after a couple glasses of wine) wonderful smell.
Now it’s time to add the veggies. Toss in the white beans, zucchini, the roasted peppers and any remaining diced peppers you haven’t added already, and the scallions. Let this simmer until the veggies have cooked and softened a bit. Stir in the fresh chopped basil and serve immediately garnished with fresh parmesan, maybe a little olive oil and some bread on the side. But lay off the wine, don’t you think you’ve had enough? Just kidding, heck- have more! Full recipe is at the bottom – enjoy ———-
- 2-3 lbs boneless skinless chicken , cut into chunks
- 4 tsp fennel seeds
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more to cook the chicken
- 2 large onions, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 green jalapeno peppers, diced – leave in seeds for extra heat
- 2 red jalapeno peppers, diced – leave in seeds for extra heat
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 6 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 2 cups white wine
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 (12-ounce) can diced tomato in juices
- 2 (15-ounce) cans white beans, rinsed and drained or 4 cups cooked white beans
- 3 zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
- 3 poblano peppers, roasted and sliced with skin and seeds removed
- 1 red bell pepper, diced – seeds removed
- 1 bunch scallions, sliced
- 1/2 cup torn basil leaves
- Salt and pepper
- Grated parmesan, to garnish
Roast the poblano peppers (and perhaps a jalapeno) by placing them under broil on a greased pan until they’re practically charred black. You don’t want them completely burned up, but you do want a nice charred color on the majority of their skin. Remove from oven and immediately place in a ziploc bag or plastic storage container. This is to let them cool in their own steam, which will make the skins super easy to remove. Once they’re cooled, remove the skins (which should pretty much fall right off), slice them open and scrape all the seeds away. Then dice them however your like. Voila – roasted peppers!
Place the chicken chunks in a large bowl and add salt and pepper to your liking. Add in fennel seed and smoked paprika. Toss the seasoned chicken with the flour until well-coated.
Heat a dutch oven over med-high heat. Add 1/4 cup of the olive oil (or enough to coat the bottom of the pot) – when the olive oil is super hot, add the chicken pieces. Spread the chicken pieces out so only 1 layer covers the bottom. You’re going to end up cooking all the chicken in batches – this will be a little time consuming, but it’s so worth it. Also, leave as much of the flour in the bowl as possible – too much flour in the pot will just burn. And with this in mind, add as much olive oil as you’ll need for each batch to cook well.
The longer you’re able to cook the chicken on each side without turning, the more it will caramelize and turn brown. I would say let each side cook for a good 4-5 minutes, depending on how hot your pot actually is. Once it’s fully cooked, remove from the dutch oven and reserve in a bowl nearby, leaving the juice and scrapings behind.
Once all the chicken is cooked and removed, add another 1/4 cup of olive oil to the same pan with all the drippings. Add the onions and garlic and sweat them up until they soften really well. Add the diced jalapenos and cook until they’re softened, another couple minutes. Next, add the tomato paste, chili powder and thyme and stir everything until combined. Then, add the white wine and cook until it starts to simmer. Then add the chicken stock, diced tomatoes and cooked chicken. Stir everything up and season a little more with salt and pepper, as needed.
From here, let this mixture simmer until the chicken is falling apart – this will take about 45-55 minutes. What will also happen is the flour from the chicken, along with the tomato paste, will start thickening slightly over time and give the chili a nice consistency.
After the chili has simmered and the chicken is all tender and your house is filled with that wonderful smell, then add the white beans, zucchini, the rest of the peppers, both roasted and diced, along with the scallions. Bring back to a simmer and cook until vegetables are tender, about 10 to 15 more minutes. Stir in the chopped basil. Serve immediately, sprinkled with the grated parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil, if desired. Also with a good crusty bread, of course. Prepare yourself for the ensuing food coma.