Sunday, October 6, 2013

White Chicken Chili with Zavory Peppers (Dairy Free, Soy Free)

Who doesn't love chili?

My family absolutely loves my traditional, tomatoes-and-beans turkey chili.  We've experimented with verde-style chilis and even a ridiculously good vegan chili.  Today, however, I am making white chicken chili.

This is a white chili because it does not include tomatoes.

The night before I want to serve this chili, I make up some homemade stock.  This is easy peasy.  I promise.  Don't be frightened.

If you don't want to/don't have the time to/are afraid to make your own chicken stock, then that's totally cool.  There are plenty of low-sodium commercial stocks out there.  I prefer to make my own because I can carefully control the sodium level, and I know for sure that there is no MSG in my soup.  If you're not planning to make stock, scroll down to the Squish.


First, take a whole 4 lb chicken, remove whatever "stuff" is crammed into the cavity (The Hubs tells me this is the neck, or gizzards, or something.  The sheer fact that I am wiling to touch a whole raw chicken indicates that I have come a long, long way--but I am not yet to a place where I want to think about "gizzards").  Just....throw it away.  Or something.

Around dinnertime one night, put the chicken in your slow cooker.  Add enough water just to cover.  Around the chicken, stick a peeled and quartered yellow onion, 2-3 stalks of celery, a couple of bay leaves and some garlic cloves (whole).  Sprinkle a few whole black peppercorns in, put the lid on, turn the slow cooker on "high."  Let it work its magic for 3-4 hours.  Then, turn the slow cooker down to "low," and go to bed.

Those of you with infants in the house may want to resist this recipe until your baby is sleeping through the night.  I tell you, waking up at 2 a.m. and smelling rich, golden homemade chicken soup is a bit distracting.

In the morning, you will have yourself a stunning homemade stock with a whole lot of stuff floating in it.  Have your rubbish bin nearby, as well as a colander set into a big bowl.  I also make sure I have a large wire mesh sieve and a cutting board nearby.  Turn the slow cooker off and work very carefully, as this stuff is hot.  Using a slotted spoon or a spider, begin to scoop the chicken out of the stock.  Discard bones and other gristle, as well as the celery, onion, garlic and bay.  Chicken meat goes into the colander.  Keep scooping until you've pulled most of the solids from the stock.

Now put the colander containing the chicken aside to cool before handling.  Combine any stock that dripped into the bowl with the stock in the slow cooker crock and carefully ladel it through the wire mesh sieve and into a pot.  I typically do this twice: once through the sieve, and once more through the sieve with a layer of cheesecloth.

You'll want to give your slow cooker crockery a quick wash at this point if you plan to use it for the chili.  The stock-making process will leave behind a big of scum and that's not good eats.

Now you should have a pot full of stock, a colander full of chicken, and a rubbish bin full of bones and other such nonsense.  Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred it and set it aside.

Awww.  Squish stole my apple.
I really just put this here so those skipping the stock-making portion of the post could see where to pick up.  So, let's make some chili, shall we?

In a saucepan, heat some olive oil.  Sweat diced onion, minced garlic, and chopped peppers until the onion is soft and translucent.  You can use any kind of peppers here.  I use zavory because that is what I grow in my garden (plus, they are gorgeous).  You can certainly use jalapeno, habanero, or even a mixture of hot and sweet peppers depending on your heat level preferences.

Add two cans of diced green chiles and 1 can of cannelini beans.  Sprinkle in some chili powder, cumin, ground corainder, smoked paprika, and a bit of cayenne pepper (if you're feeling frisky).

Now you're going to add that stock.  Mmmmmmmmm......

....and the shredded chicken.

Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for a good 20-30 minutes.  Alternatively, you can put the whole thing in your slow cooker and let it hang out all day long.  Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.  We like things spicy, so I tend to just dump a bunch of chili powder and cumin in there.

About ten minutes before serving (if cooking stovetop) or one hour before serving (if slow cooking), whisk together 1/8 c masa cornmeal with 1 1/4 c unsweetened plain rice milk.  Slowly whisk that into the chili.  This will thicken the soup just a tad, and adds the hint of a creamy mouth feel without, um, cream.

I like to serve this chili with diced avocado, sliced scallion greens, chopped fresh cilantro, sliced raw zavory peppers and tortilla chips.  And a healthy squeeze of lime juice.

White Chicken Chili with Zavory Peppers

2 T olive oil
1/2 c chopped white or sweet onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c chopped hot peppers (any kind will do, really)
2-7 oz cans diced green chiles, drained
1-14.5 oz can cannelini beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed
1-2 T chili powder (adjust to taste)
1-2 T cumin (adjust to taste)
1/2 T smoked paprika
2 t ground coriander
cayenne pepper, to taste
6 c chicken stock (homemade or store bought)
1-2 c shredded cooked chicken
1/8 c masa corn meal
1 1/4 c plain unsweetened nondairy milk
kosher salt and pepper, to taste

for serving:
additional chopped hot peppers
lime wedges
chopped fresh cilantro
diced avocado
finely sliced scallions
tortilla chips or warm corn tortillas

1.  In a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat oil over medium-low to medium heat.  Add onion, garlic and peppers.  Add a pinch of kosher salt and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are soft and translucent.
2.  Turn heat up slightly (medium to medium-high) and, working quickly, add chiles, beans, and spices.
3.  Pour in stock.  Add cooked shredded chicken.  Bring to a boil.
4.  Reduce heat to a low simmer.  Simmer gently 20-30 minutes, adjusting seasonings to your personal preferences.
5.  Meanwhile, whisk masa and milk in a liquid measuring cup.  Prior to serving, whisk masa mixture into chili and cook ten additional minutes, until masa is well incorporated and chili thickens slightly.
6.  Serve with garnishes of your choice.

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