~ "White Out" White Chicken 'n Corn Chili ~
During our thirty years of marriage, my husband Joe and I have traveled a lot. On some of those travels, we have eaten our fair share of "Tex-Mex" cuisine: in Arizona, southern California, New Mexico and Texas. One of my favorite dishes to order was always white chicken chili. Once I familiarized myself with the authentic spice blends and southwestern flavors, it did not take me long to decide to develop a recipe for my family to enjoy right here in my Pennsylvania, Happy Valley, kitchen. I am proud to say that my recipe has received accolades from everyone who tastes it, but most notably: from a friend of mine in San Antonio, Texas, who told me she would be proud to serve it in her restaurant!
Then, two years ago, I was asked to teach a tailgating class for OLLI PSU (The Oshear Long-life Learning Institute at the Penn State University). I devoted the entire three hour class to teaching three dishes which I deemed representative of Penn State's greatest victories with creative names that I felt did indeed represent the cuisine of each game:
#1) The Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, LA, 1983): "JoePa's" Easy Seafood 'n Shaved Corn Jambalaya
#2) The Fiesta Bowl (Tempe, AZ, 1987): "White Out" White Chicken 'n Corn Chili
#3) The Rose Bowl (Pasadena, CA, 1995): "Big 10" Black 'nd Blue Cheese Corn on the Cobb Salad
Well, let me say this: I've taught a lot of cooking classes, but this full-to-capacity class of forty Penn Staters gave my assistant Jeanne and myself a standing ovation at the end of the day. It goes without saying that I'll eventually be posting all three of these recipes for you, but since it is Fall, and the "Penn State Student Government Weather Service" is forecasting possible "white out" conditions (everyone dresses in white) for this Saturday's 8:00 PM football game (10/30/10), I felt it prudent to post this very special recipe sooner rather than later. PLEASE DO NOT let the length of the following ingredients list deter you from making this delicious recipe... it's just chicken, a few chopped vegetables and some great spices:
6 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, pounded thin*
3-4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, coarsely ground*
1 1/2 pounds diced yellow or sweet onion
8 ounces thinly sliced green onion, white and light green part only
2 ounces minced garlic cloves
12-16 ounces each: green and red bell pepper, cut into bite-sized strips
1 ounce minced jalapeno peppers, more or less, to taste
8 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons corn oil
2 tablespoons Santa Fe Seasons Chile Blend, or 1-2 tablespoons Mexican-style chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1.5-ounce bottle ground cumin
2 tablespoons Santa Fe Seasons Six Seasonings, or 1-2 tablespoons Mexican-style oregano
4 teaspoons sea salt, plus an additional 1-2 teaspoons additional salt, to taste
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, more or less, to taste
2 teaspoons white pepper
1 40-ounce bag frozen corn
1 40-ounce can great northern white beans, undrained
1 16-ounce can refried beans
grated white cheddar cheese and cilantro leaves, for topping and garnish
* Instead of pounding the chicken breasts and grinding the chicken thighs yourself, you can request your butcher to perform both of these tasks for you. If you are doing this yourself, the pictures in Step 1 and Step 2 illustrate what you should do:
Using a large chef's knife, slice each pounded breast half into 3 strips, then slice each strip into bite-sized strips and small, "torn" random-sized pieces.
Cut each thigh into 1 1/2"-2" chunks and place in work bowl of food processor that has been fitted with steel blade.
Coarsely grind the thighs, about 10-12 rapid on-off pulses.
~ Step 3. Prep the onion, green onion, garlic cloves, bell peppers and jalapenos as directed. I like to dice the onions and slice the bell peppers into bite-sized strips. I also like to mince the garlic and jalapenos. Please feel free to prep these ingredients in any manner you choose... within reason!
~ Step 4. The spices. If you read this blog, you've noticed I almost always us McCormick Spices. However, in a lot of my Tex-Mex recipes, I use some very special spice blends sold by www.applecanyon.com a company in New Mexico. Give 'em a try!
Now that the prep work is done, the following cooking process is actually quite simple and fun:
~ Step 5. In a 12-quart chef's pan or stockpot (a chef's pan works best), melt the butter and corn oil together over low heat. Stir in the chile blend, ground cloves, ground cumin, six seasonings, salt, red pepper flakes and white pepper.
Add all of the sliced chicken breasts and coarsely ground chicken thighs. Stir until chicken is evenly coated in the spice mixture.
Stir in all of the prepped vegetables along with the frozen corn. Return to a simmer and continue to cook until vegetables have lost almost all of their moisture and volume, about 20-30 minutes.
~ Step 8. Add the great northern beans and the refried beans. Stir until the refried beans are thoroughly incorporated into the chili. Make sure you do this, so the refried beans don't stick to the bottom of the pan. Return chili to simmer very, very gently, uncovered, about 30-40 minutes. Add additonal salt, to taste. Remove from heat, cover pan and let chili steep and thicken for 1 1/2-2 hours... beans will soak up liquid!
~ Step 9. Briefly and gently reheat chile and portion into individual-sized, oven & broiler-safe crocks placed on a baking pan that is lined with a sheet of parchment paper. Generously top each portion with grated white cheddar cheese. IT IS A WHITE OUT PEOPLE, NO YELLOW CHEDDAR PLEASE!!!
Place on oven rack positioned 6" underneath preheated broiler for 5-6 minutes, until cheese is bubbly.
Special Equipment List: 2, 2-gallon size food storage bags; cutting board; chef's knife; flat-sided meat mallet; kitchen shears; food processor; 12-quart chef's pan w/straight deep sides & lid (or 12-quart stockpot w/lid); large spoon; soup ladle; cheese grater; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper; 2-cup size oven- and broiler-safe soup crocks or bowls (ramekins may be substituted)
Cook's Note: If you want to make a smaller amount, this recipe can be cut in half easily, in which case use an 8-quart stockpot to prepare it in. This being said, white chicken chile freezes perfectly. I like to freeze it in 6-cup size food storage containers for quick weeknight meals and for use in my recipe for White Chicken 'n Corn Chile Burritos, which I shall be posting for you very soon!
Extra Cook's Note: The perfect, crunchy accompaniment to a bowl of steaming hot chili is tortilla chips for dipping. Try my easy recipe (takes just 20 minutes) for ~ Deep-Fried Tortilla Chips (Totopos) ~, recipe found in categories 2, 13 & 17. Sooo much better than store-bought!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2010)