I started playing with a recipe for White Bean Chicken Chili last fall. I love all of the spices and flavors in chili, and wanted to master my own chicken-version. With just enough spice, diced green chilis, and corn.
Then last December Bryan Jennings was on island filming the latest Walking on Water movie called “Surfers and Cowboys,” and Dave and I invited the whole crew to our place for dinner. The whole crew, including the surfers, and the cowboys. And when I say cowboys I mean the PBR kind–(Professional Bull Riders, in case you don’t speak cowboy)–with big shiny belt buckles, deep southern drawls, and scars to prove that they’ve been to a rodeo or two. They were a hoot! (One of them, Thad, had the best mullet I’ve seen since eight grade.)
Well, since I was on a white bean chicken chili kick at the time, without so much as a second thought, I decided that I’d whip up a batch of my chili for the dinner party.
You already guessed it I’m sure, but I tend to get myself in trouble when I do the whole “without a second thought” thing.
I was making chili for a bunch of cowboys from Oklahoma. What WAS I thinking?
It wasn’t until I was literally ladling the chili into the cowboys bowls that it occurred to me that I was serving these guys a meal that their mommas probably won blue ribbons for at the country fair. I bet cowboys eat chili from birth.
Fortunately, these were true gentlemen. And either they really did like the chili, or their skills went beyond bull riding into the charm department, because they raved about my chili. (Really!) One of them even said (and I quote) “This is better than my Grandma’s, and my grandma makes the best chili in the world.”
My day? Made.
Since I had also made a huge batch of cornbread, the cowboys demonstrated for us all the right way to eat chili and cornbread:
First, you cut a piece of cornbread in half, then lay it in the bottom of a bowl. Scoop the chili right on top of the cornbread, then top with sour cream, and cheddar cheese.
Since I don’t believe in arguing with bull riders, I followed suit. Yum!
I’ve made this chili about twenty more times since that night, and each time we laugh remembering those sweet and funny cowboys and all the fun we had eating chili and cornbread together. Those cowboys know how to tell a story.
This is a crowd pleaser, a family favorite, and something that absolutely belongs on your weekly meal rotation. Plus, it’s easy! If you’ve got a rotisserie chicken, or can cook up some chicken breasts in advance, it’s as easy as opening a few cans of beans, tossing in some spices, and your’e there. Cornbread, optional. (In the photos I baked up a batch of cornmeal biscuits, and those worked out really well too.)
PS I always double this recipe. Mostly because it seems every time I cook it, we end up with unexpected guests (the smell must travel! :)) but also because leftovers are pretty perfect too.
- 4 cooked chicken breasts, shredded or cut into small pieces. OR one rotisserie chicken, cut up.
- 4 cups chicken stock. (I go light on the stock, and if I double the recipe, I do not add more stock. we like our chili thick. :))
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil.
- 1 medium onion, diced.
- 2 cloves garlic, minced.
- 2-3 (15 ounce) cans of white beans. (Great Northern, or Cannelini) Choose how beany you like your chili. 🙂 You can leave the juice in it.
- 1 (4 ounce) can mild diced green chilis, with liquid.
- 1 cup frozen corn, or one can (15 ounce) canned corn. Drain liquid.
- 2 tsp. dried oregano.
- 2 tsp. ground cumin.
- 1-2 tsp. chili powder. (to taste)
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. ground black pepper
- Toppings: sour cream, and shredded cheddar cheese
- Pour olive oil into a large Dutch or pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until tender.
- Add chicken stock and the rest of the ingredients, combining well. Cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes.
- Taste, and adjust seasonings to your preference.
- Serve in bowls and top with sour cream, shredded cheese. Goes great with chips or corn bread and salad!
**side note: Corn is optional. The batch in these photos has a lot of corn, (and my boys like it that way,) but you can add as much or little as you like. Flavor is great either way.
Let me know how you do!
PS Here’s a little trailer from the Surfers and Cowboys movie. Coming soon to a rodeo near you. 😉
(I’ll let ya know when it’s available!)