Slow-Cooker White Chicken Chili

by Anne Bennett on October 9, 2014

chicken chili

This was my lunch the day after our chili dinner. Leftovers, eaten outside on a balmy fall day, creamy and comforting.

There are plenty of slow cooker recipes out there that proudly tout, “cooks all day while the cook’s away.” All you do is toss in several cans of this-and-that and eight hours later you’ve got dinner. So what if it’s mushy, watery and overcooked? That’s how slow cooker food is supposed to taste!

Crock pot aficionados are so staunchly in favor of  the “no effort” promise that they rebel when there are any added steps, like browning the meat beforehand or dirtying any extra bowls. If you’re one of that crowd, read no further because the following recipe calls for sautéing and bowl-dirtying, albeit minimal.

This white chicken chili comes from Cook’s Country, a division of Cook’s Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen, the cooking program on PBS.  It calls for browning the chicken thighs in a skillet before adding them to the slow cooker. You also have to puree a can of cannellini beans with a can of hominy (dried corn kernels that have been soaked in lye to remove the hull) and chicken broth. Because slow cookers allow for almost no liquid evaporation during the cooking process (hence the watery outcome of most recipes), pureeing the beans gives this chili a thicker texture.

In other words, the extra effort is well worth your time. This is one of the best chicken chilies I’ve had. It has a rich corn flavor (from the pureed hominy), lots of big chunks of chicken and just the right amount of spice from the jalapeño peppers. The original recipe called for four jalapeños but I used three. Adding pickled jalapeños at the end brightens the flavor.

Serve this chili with your favorite toppings: shredded cheese, cilantro, chopped onion and for heat lovers, more pickled jalapeños.

3 (16-oz.) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 (16-oz.) can white hominy, drained and rinsed
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
6 bone-in skinless chicken thighs, fat trimmed
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 onions, chopped fine
3 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped fine
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp. drained jarred pickled jalapeño peppers, minced

Puree one can of cannellini beans, hominy, chicken broth and 3/4 tsp. salt in a blender until completely smooth. Pour into slow cooker.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat olive oil and brown chicken thighs. Add thighs to slow cooker. Pour off any fat left in skillet and cook the onion, jalapeño peppers and 1/2 tsp. salt until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin and coriander and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer half of onion mixture to slow cooker; set aside remaining onion mixture for later.

Add remaining two cans of cannellini beans to slow cooker. Cover and cook on low until chicken is tender, about 4 hours. Transfer chicken to a bowl, allow to cool slightly, discard bones and shred meat into bite-sized pieces. Stir shredded chicken, cilantro, pickled jalapeño peppers and reserved onion mixture into slow cooker and let warm. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 8
WW Points per serving: 8

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