Two Years Ago: Sausage and Lentils
Chili is a great way to entertain a crowd, especially if you get together with a few friends who bring a couple of different kinds. Set up a condiments bar, provide some beverages, and you're good to go. This is a twist on your normal chili that both adults and children love because it's mild but flavorful. In fact, The Lawyer had a standing request for many years to bring this chili to every pot luck at work because his co-workers loved it that much. He usually made a triple or quadruple batch in a slow cooker at work and almost never had any left to bring home. I brought it to work myself for a chili pot luck and noticed more people went back for seconds of this chili compared to the other, more assertive recipes.
Quick story: The Lawyer had the brilliant idea to add green food coloring one time when he brought it for a St. Patrick's Day pot luck. For some unknown reason the food coloring was sucked up by the chicken pieces with the result that the chili looked absolutely normal in color except it contained brilliant green chunks of chicken. His co-workers ate it anyway. (You just can't make this stuff up.)
The nice part about it is that the people who like spicy chili can spice theirs up with minced jalapenos or shredded pepper jack cheese from the condiment bar, so everyone gets what they like. Other suggested condiments (or garnishes) include minced red onion, chopped cilantro, shredded Cheddar, sour cream, corn chips, and crumbled toasted corn bread. People always have fun at a party when they can pick and choose their own ingredients, right?
This is very easy to make on the stovetop or in a slow cooker; I've included instructions for both. You'll notice that it calls for low-sodium chicken broth and a lower sodium brand of beans if you can find it - the reason is that canned beans have a significant amount of sodium and you're going to dump in the whole can undrained (the liquid in the can adds flavor and helps thicken the sauce). People can always add salt later if they want.
White Chicken Chili
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized cubes
¼ cup chopped onion
1 cup less-sodium chicken broth
1 can (4 oz) chopped green chiles, drained
1 can (19 oz) cannellini beans, undrained (look for a lower sodium brand if possible)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
¼ teaspoon ground red pepper
2 teaspoons minced fresh cilantro
Minced red onion
Shredded pepper jack (or other hot) cheese
Shredded sharp Cheddar
Crumbled toasted cornbread
Heat oil in a 2-3 quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook 4-5 minutes, stirring often, until just cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon.
Add onion to saucepan and cook 2 minutes. Stir in broth, green chiles, spices and cilantro; simmer 30 minutes covered.
Stir in cooked chicken and beans; simmer 10 minutes. Serve with optional garnishes.
Slow cooker version: cook chicken separately in advance. Add remaining ingredients (except the chicken and beans) to a slow cooker and cook on high for 1-2 hours or low for 2-3 hours. Add the chicken and beans in the last half hour or so of cooking.