A trio of ways to make white chicken chili pop with flavor
photo by: Carl Tremblay/America's Test Kitchen via AP
White chicken chili is a fresher, lighter cousin of the thick red chili most of us know and love. Its appeal is not surprising because it is a healthier alternative and, when made well, packed with vibrant flavors and spiciness. All too often, however, this chili is lackluster.
We found not one but three solutions to bland chicken chili recipes. To fix what is often a watery sauce, we pureed some of our sauteed chile-onion mixture and beans with the broth to thicken the base.
To avoid floating bits of rubbery chicken, we browned, poached, and shredded bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, which gave the chicken a hearty texture and full flavor.
And to solve the problem of insufficient chile flavor, we used a trio of fresh chiles: jalapeno, poblano, and Anaheim. For a spicier chile, add the jalapeño seeds. If you can’t find Anaheim chiles, add an additional poblano and jalapeno to the chili.
WHITE CHICKEN CHILI
Start to finish: 1 hour
2 onions, chopped
3 Anaheim chiles, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
3 poblano chiles, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
3 jalapeno chiles, stemmed, seeded, and minced
3 pounds bone-in split chicken breasts, trimmed
2 tablespoons canola oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
Salt and pepper
2 (15 ounce) cans no-salt-added cannellini beans, rinsed
4 cups unsalted chicken broth
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
4 scallions, sliced thin
2 tablespoons lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
Toss onions, Anaheims, poblanos, and two-thirds of jalapenos together in bowl. Working in two batches, pulse vegetables in food processor to consistency of chunky salsa, about 12 pulses; set aside.
Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown chicken, 3 to 5 minutes per side; transfer to plate and discard skin.
Add processed vegetable mixture, garlic, cumin, coriander, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to fat left in pot and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat.
Process 1 cup cooked vegetable mixture, 1 cup beans, and 1 cup broth in food processor until smooth, about 20 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Return pureed mixture to pot and stir in remaining 3 cups broth, scraping up any browned bits. Nestle chicken into pot along with any accumulated juices and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until chicken registers 160 F, 10 to 15 minutes.
Transfer chicken to carving board, let cool slightly, then shred into bite-size pieces using 2 forks; discard bones.
Stir remaining beans into chili, bring to simmer over medium heat, and cook, uncovered, until chili has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. Off heat, stir in chicken and let sit until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in cilantro, scallions, lime juice, oregano, and remaining jalapeno and season with pepper to taste. Serve with lime wedges.