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Saturday, March 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Dorothy Dean presents: Slow cooker white bean chicken chili warms up National Chili Day

UPDATED: Mon., Feb. 24, 2020

By Audrey Alfaro For The Spokesman-Review

If you think the Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day are the only celebrations this frigid month of February, you’re wrong.

The biggest – well, tastiest – of them all is on the 27th, honoring a cook-off favorite and the official dish of Texas. It’s National Chili Day.

Chili is a hearty stew typically made with beans, tomatoes, onions, peppers and Southwest spices. However, there are many variations of chili. And with the numerous versions I’ve made, there’s one cooking method I stick to: the slow cooker.

I find it the best way to cook chili, as the hours spent simmering allow the flavors to develop and meld together, creating a super-delicious soup with bites of beans, meats and veggies cooked to tender perfection.

This flavorful and creamy version is chock-full of velvety white beans, moist shredded chicken, sweet morsels of corn, peppers, onions and zesty green chilies, and its creaminess comes from a dollop of cream cheese that’s whisked in before serving.

A variety of optional toppings – such as crisp tortilla strips, jalapeños, avocado, cilantro, lime and cheese – adds pops of brightness, heat and texture to the chili.

I prefer thighs for this recipe, but chicken breasts can be substituted. For more heat, a chopped jalapeño can be added into the soup while cooking, or try it with a sprinkle of cayenne when serving.

Slow Cooker White Bean Chicken Chili

5 cups chicken broth

2 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Juice from one lime

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 small yellow onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

2 pounds chicken thighs, skinless and boneless

2 (15 ounce) cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed

1 (15 ounce) can Southwest corn or regular corn, drained

2 (4 ounce) cans diced fire-roasted green chilies, drained

2 tablespoons corn starch

2 tablespoons cold water

4 ounces cream cheese, softened and cubed

1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

For serving: Monterey Jack cheese, fried tortilla strips, avocado slices, chopped cilantro, jalapeños and lime wedges

Add the chicken broth, seasonings and lime juice into a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker and whisk to combine, then add in the garlic, onions, bell peppers, chicken, beans, corn and chilies and stir.

Cover and cook on low for 5-7 hours or high for 3-5 hours or until the chicken shreds easily.

Remove the chicken to a bowl and shred it using two forks.

In a small bowl, mix together the corn starch and cold water until smooth. Add the corn starch slurry and cream cheese into the slow cooker and whisk until incorporated.

Stir the shredded chicken and cilantro into the soup. Cover and cook on high for 15 minutes or until the chili is creamy and slightly thickened.

Serve with desired toppings.

Audrey Alfaro can be reached at spoonandswallow@yahoo.com.

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