Divine Dining 2/6/13
There are certain things that absolutely, unequivocally make your day: someone letting you into their lane in 5 o’clock traffic; finding out that some gifted soul has created a rap version of the Heidelberg Catechism (OK, that probably only makes a nerdy pastor’s day); and, finally, being given a mason jar full of glorious homemade chicken chili by your colleague. The latter is what we’ll be discussing here. Her Holiness Mary the Music Director brought me the most delicious thing to ever come out of a Mason jar (and we all know that’s saying something, y’all) today. Allow me to try to get the genealogy of this recipe’s source correct: It comes from her niece’s grandmother in Ohio, known as Grandma Peggy Castina. I’ve never met you, Peggy, but God bless you for making my day so delicious!
Now, as a Texan, we have a few rules about chili. First, we nearly always insist that chili consists of only beef, tomatoes and onions, no beans. Second, we always insist that chili be spicy enough to demand lots
of delicious things on top to cool it off, namely sour cream and cheese. Though I’m a pastor, it must be said, that sometimes breaking the rules is OK. Especially if it means creating a chili that tastes like the happy marriage of an enchilada and chicken soup, kicky with the flavors of cumin and cayenne, creamy with the decadence of white beans and crisp with the bite of sweet corn. Go ahead: break the rules and make this knockout white bean chicken chili. It’s bound to make your day and, if you make enough to share, someone else’s as well.
White Bean Chicken Chili
1 lb. of chicken tenders or breasts, cut into 3-inch strips
salt and pepper
2 T olive oil
1 c. diced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 (15 oz.) cans white beans, such as Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 c. corn, fresh or frozen
1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chiles
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
3 c. chicken broth
2 c. grated Monterey Jack cheese
2 T chopped fresh cilantro
Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large, deep pan over high heat with the olive oil until shimmering but not smoking. Add the chicken pieces and cook, stirring until browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Lower the heat to medium high and add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the beans, corn, chiles, spices and chicken broth. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add more broth, ½ c. at a time, if the chili is too thick. Serve each bowl topped with cilantro and cheese. *I would also recommend serving with tortilla chips, sour cream, fresh chopped avocado and lime wedges.
Whitney Wilkinson is pastor of Cameron Presbyterian Church.