Preface: Chili always tastes better than it appears (in both its white and red forms).
I have never agreed with the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” It would be a very tedious and bland world if everyone followed the rules and never thought outside the box—particularly in the foodie world. If it weren’t for adventurous chefs/cooks/famers, we would all be stuck eating the paleo diet (no offense to those who actually choose the paleo diet—but thanks, Monsanto, for slowly killing us with your delicious, genetically modified food!).
Confession: up until a few days ago, I’ve only ever known and enjoyed chili in its beef/tomato form. It’s always been one of those standard dishes I never switched up because I didn’t know there was an equally tasty option out there. After spending the last couple of weeks with my father—the king of fixing (or improving) unbroken food—I figured why not mix up our chili routine and go with a slow cooker white bean and chicken chili? It has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in the kitchen.
Almost every white bean chili recipe I referenced appeared to look more like a soup than an actual chili, even after these recipes mentioned blending a decent amount of the cooked beans. To really thicken the white bean chili, I decided to incorporate cauliflower into the slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients, but blend it with a bit of the beans after the chili cooked to create a thicker, more realistic looking/tasting chili. Cauliflower is one of those foods that is very easy to manipulate the taste and consistency—I find it’s one of the most efficient natural thickening agents and it proved itself useful in my white chili.
My slow cooker white bean chicken chili turned out amazing! There were nuances of traditional chili with the spices and thick consistency, yet the dish took on its own chili form in the most delicious and spicy of ways. Even though there was pulled chicken and vegetables like cauliflower (blended) and zucchini, if you closed your eyes and took a bite, you would think you were eating traditional chili. After taking his first bite of the white bean chicken chili, the one I cook for responded with a simple, “Wow! You should blog about this.”
-2 large chicken breasts
-5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
-2 small white onions (or 1 large), finely chopped
-2 green peppers, chopped
-5 small tomatillos, finely chopped
-1 tbsp canola oil
-1 small to medium cauliflower head, cut into decently sized pieces and stalks chopped off (you’re going to blend the cauliflower, so leave the pieces large enough that they are easy to see/scoop out of the slow cooker)
-1 medium zucchini, halved and sliced
-1 large jalapeño, chopped. I used half of the seeds from the jalapeño, so just remember the more seeds you add to the slow cooker, the hotter the chili.
-1 can of green chilies
-1 standard pack of frozen corn
-1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro
-1 can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
-2 cans of garbanzo/chick peas, drained and rinsed
-1/4 cup of light sour cream
-1/3 cup of fat-free half and half
-1 pack of chili spice (I used hot, but if you don’t like the spice, adjust the heat accordingly)
-1 white chicken chili spice pack (I used Mccormick’s)
-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional—I enjoy the extra kick)
-Dash of red pepper flakes (optional)
-Approximately 4 cups of low sodium chicken broth (enough that the contents are almost covered with the broth)
-2 tbsp cornstarch
-Salt to taste
-In a saucepan, sauté the garlic and onions in salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, and about 1 tbsp of canola oil.
-Stir in the green peppers and the tomatillos.
-Sprinkle about 1 tbsp of the chili spice and about a half of tbsp of the white chicken spice over the cooking ingredients. Stir well and cook for about five minutes on medium to high heat.
-While the peppers and onions etc. cook, lightly sprinkle each side of the chicken breasts with both the regular chili spice and the white chicken spice. The chicken should be covered as much as possible. The picture below is what my chicken looked liked with the rub/spices. You should have plenty of both spices left over.
-Place the chicken breasts on the bottom of the slow cooker.
-Add in the beans, zucchini, can of green chilies, jalapeño, cauliflower, corn, and cilantro.
-Pour in the cooked garlic, onions, peppers, and tomatillos.
-Sprinkle the remainder of both spice packs over the ingredients.
-Pour the chicken broth over the contents and stir well.
-Stir in the half and half and sour cream and mix well.
-Add in the cornstarch and stir well.
-Cover the slow cooker and set on your desired cooking setting. I cooked this batch of chili on the high, 4-hour setting.
-Once the cooking time has elapsed, remove and shred the chicken (I always shred my chicken with two forks—I’ve found this is the easiest method). Lightly sprinkle the chicken with salt and set aside.
-Remove as much of the cauliflower as possible and place the pieces into a blender. It’s completely fine if you have some of the other ingredients.
-Remove about a cup worth of beans from the slow cooker and add them to the blender. Sprinkle in a few shakes of salt.
-Blend until the contents are smooth. If you feel you need to, add in a little bit of chicken broth to help the ingredients blend more efficiently.
-Add the shredded chicken and the blended ingredients back into the slow cooker.
-Let the chili cook on low for about 20 minutes. Serve warm, but let the chili cool a bit before eating. Enjoy!