Though chili is an American classic, there really isn’t a single classic recipe. It can be made with ground beef or stew meat, venison, pork, or poultry, beans or no beans. Some chilis are tomato-y, thick, and spicy. Others are brothy and light. Says Jennifer of her brothy chicken-based chili with black and white beans, corn, and green chiles: “I came up with this chicken chili recipe after eating something similar at a local restaurant. I wanted a healthy chili that was quick to make and good for us. This is now one of my family’s favorite meals and a recipe I go back to all the time. It’s great on a cold winter day or for a festive Cinco de Mayo party. I recently won a chili cook-off at my office with this recipe!”–Jennifer Nystrom
Black and White Chicken Chili
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts trimmed
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion minced
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 4 cups homemade chicken stock or low-sodium canned chicken broth
- One can cannellini beans drained and rinsed
- One can black beans drained and rinsed
- 1 1/2 cups frozen corn thawed
- One can chopped green chiles drained
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook the chicken until golden brown on both sides, about 5 minutes, flipping halfway through. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
- Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cumin, oregano, and ½ teaspoon pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the broth, scraping up any browned bits.
- Return the chicken, along with any accumulated juices, to the pot. Bring to a simmer and cook until the thickest part of the breasts registers 160 to 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Transfer the chicken to a plate. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred the meat into bite-sized pieces and return it to the chili; add the beans, corn, and chiles. Return to a simmer, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 15 minutes.
- Off the heat, stir the cilantro into the chicken chili and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
The taste of this brothy chili defied the ease of preparation. The recipe calls for items that are basics in my pantry (which is always appealing) and was easy to prepare after a day on the slopes—a perfect meal for a snowy day. With the exception of browning the chicken breasts and sautéing the onions, there was no real cooking involved. You just had to assemble the ingredients. The taste was even better the following day. The second time around, I made homemade tortilla strips and placed these in the bottom of the bowls and served the Black and White Chicken Chili over the tortilla strips, topping it with grated cheese.
Like most of us, I’m always on the lookout for dinner ideas that taste fabulous, are quick to put together, healthy, and visually appealing. This brothy chili fits the bill. The only real labors involved are braising and shredding the chicken. The meat gains a lot of flavor from the aromatics, herbs, and spices, even with the short cooking time. The chili didn’t thicken much at all, but those that partook agreed that the brothiness of the dish was one of their favorite aspects. It’s different from what you imagine chili should be. Despite a short ingredient list, the colors were intense and flavors complex. The only feedback that was even a bit negative was from my husband, who thought it was too bland (but his mouth is made of asbestos). If others who try this great recipe have chili lovers in their home, it’s a simple matter of adding a dish of fresh, chopped chiles to the table for those who need more heat. And since money is an issue for everyone these days, this chili gains another plus for being economical to prepare.
The taste, and especially the look of this chili, is best the day it’s made. The flavors mellowed a lot by the following day, and the black beans turned the original greenish broth a shade of dark, unappetizing grey. Because most of the ingredients are pantry staples, the dish can be pulled together quickly on a busy weeknight without much effort. I would, however, make a few changes to the recipe to streamline it.
Cooking the chicken breasts whole keeps them tender, but they only need a few minutes to cook through. Measuring the temperature with a thermometer seems likes an unnecessary step since the shredded chicken is added back to the pot again and simmered for several minutes. If any part of the chicken wasn’t cooked through already, it would finish cooking while simmering. This last simmering also doesn’t thicken the chili, it instead reduces the broth a bit, so this simmering time can be shortened to just a few minutes. I would’ve preferred a thicker liquid, but the chili was still quite tasty. Sprinkling some grated cheddar and a dollop of sour cream on each bowl goes well with this chili.
Originally published August 28, 2009