It's suddenly feels cold. Real cold. Not, like "Ooh, it's such a beautiful Fall day" cold, but more like, "It's too cold to get out of bed" cold. Once all my extremities are freezing, everything I crave is in the form of warm food. That's why I can finally tell you about this chicken chili. I made it early last Spring. Probably on one of the last cold weekends we had before Summer hit. Then it got hot, and it seemed wrong to write about chili. Now that temperatures have dipped for good, we can talk about drinking insane amounts of hot chocolate, staying indoors and cooking things that take a long time, like chili. This chili is just that project. It's a weekend-thing. It's also a great thing to make if you're having people over.
The first time I had it was at my friend Cathy's, where she made it for our book club. (I think her's came out better than mine, but she's from pioneering stock and I think maybe chili is more in her DNA). If you live in the Northeast, it might be a little work to source the chili peppers. I found mine at Manhattan Fruit Exchange, in the Chelsea Market. Or, if you happen to be staying in the Mission District in San Francisco, where I've been for the past month, you probably won't have a problem (finding any food item, really). To start, put the beans up to cook, and then begin prepping the rest of the ingredients. Roast your chilis, put them in a paper bag to steam a little to help you remove the skins. Then, find some surgical gloves. Really, don't cheat on this step. Peel the skins off the chilis, remove all the seeds, and chop them.
Prepping the chili peppers and shredding the chicken (I bought an already roasted one), will take you a fair amount of time. Start during the day. Then it's just a matter of putting it all up to simmer and cook, while you do whatever it is you do. I tend to chase my dog around around the apartment, make phone calls and check Twitter. Don't judge. Depending on your ability to multi-task, at some point before, during, or after the chili is complete, you must make some cornbread. Use this recipe. It's really good, I promise. Also, make sure to prep all your toppings, cause chili is so much better with toppings (clearly, I'm not a purist). Lastly, make sure you have some folks coming over to eat with you, cause this will make a fair amount of food, and staying indoors in the cold weather is just more fun with company.
Adapted from Bon Appetit
1 pound dried small white beans 8 fresh Anaheim chilies 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter 2 large onions, chopped 1/3 cup all purpose flour 4 cups low-salt chicken broth 1 1/2 cups half and half 1 1/2 cups 2% milk (whole milk or 1% would work too) 4 cups shredded cooked chicken 1 tablespoon chili powder 1 tablespoon hot sauce 1 tablespoon ground cumin 2 teaspoons salt 1/2 teaspoon pepper
Toppings: Grated Monterey Jack cheese Sour cream Chopped fresh cilantro
Place beans in heavy large pot with enough cold water to cover by at least 3 inches. Let stand overnight.
Char chilies over gas flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides. Enclose in paper bag; let stand 10 minutes. Peel, seed, and chop chilies. Set aside.
Drain beans. Return to pot. Add enough cold water to pot to cover beans by 3 inches. Simmer until beans are almost tender, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Drain well.
Melt butter in clean heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until tender, about 15 minutes. Add flour and stir 5 minutes (do not brown). Gradually whisk in chicken broth and half and half. Simmer gently until thickened, about 10 minutes. Add reserved white beans and roasted chilies, shredded chicken, and next 5 ingredients. Simmer gently to blend flavors, about 20 minutes. (Chili can be made 1 day ahead. Chill until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm before continuing.)
Add grated cheese and sour cream to chili; stir just until chili is heated through and cheese melts (do not boil). Ladle chili into bowls and garnish with cilantro and green salsa. Serve.