Yesterday was the big game. San Francisco was hoping to add to the glory of the World Series win with another impressive title. Game viewing stirs up childhood east coast memories of settling in for an afternoon in front of the TV with Dad. It seemed that during the cold months, that was just the thing you should be doing. And food was always a part of it. On Sundays, it was a roast and the collapsible “TV Trays” would come out of the closet. Wonder what happened to those.
The indoors sports viewing experience is not quite the same here in California. The weather isn’t quite as conducive to shutting in for the day so we don’t gravitate to the guiltless pleasure as often, at least as a social occasion. Or if it rains, which can be surprisingly crippling in these parts. But for the build-up to the World Series and then again this 49ers season, these self-inflicted rules were relaxed for more than just me, no matter the weather. It’s been great.
Since a roast in the daytime just doesn’t feel right, chili won out. But this isn’t your ordinary red beef and bean variety which most of the time I can take or leave. The juicy chicken combined with the seasonings give it a great flavor which continues to develop if you want/need to make it in advance. And it’s convenient to have a blackout in the stadium to provide a break to heat it up and pull together a salad.
When we sat down on the couch to dig in, TV tray-less, I’m not sure if the elated response was chili joy or the two 49er touchdowns in just over two minutes with that blackout related play suspension at the Superdome somehow tipping things our way. Maybe a combination. Ultimately, it was a loss for our team. But I can’t help but think those Baltimore fans had the pure passion on their side.
To cook the chicken, you can easily roast whole, bone-in breasts, use boneless breasts cooked in a crock pot (need at least 4 hours) or buy a cooked rotisserie chicken. For the rest, it’s helpful to have a stocked spice drawer. Buy and label small containers and purchase spices in bulk at Whole Foods. With the exception of the onion, everything comes from the pantry.
For condiments, I serve sour cream, grated cheese (shredded Mexican mix or white cheddar), red salsa (see this page for two preferred local brands) and pickled red onions which I think adds a great flavor element. And for the best chips, try Way Better Snacks.
To accompany the chili, serve a simple green salad with sliced almonds, avocado and spring onions (scallions or shallots would work well too). And this vinaigrette from Ina Garten is a great one.
WHITE CHICKEN CHILI
Prep: 15 Minutes | Cooking: 20 Minutes (additional time based on method of cooking chicken) | Serves: 4-6
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 ½ cups chicken broth, or more if chili too thick
- 3/4 cups milk
- 1 teaspoon Tabasco, or other hot sauce, or more to taste
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper (or ¼ teaspoon black pepper), or to taste
- 2 4-ounce cans whole mild green chilies, drained and chopped
- 1 can navy beans, or other small white bean (See note below)
- 2-3 bone in chicken breasts with skin (about 2 pounds), cooked and cut into pieces (or one cooked rotisserie chicken)
- Condiments – salsa, sour cream, cilantro, grated cheese and pickled red onions
- Up to two days ahead, roast chicken breasts. See recipe here.
- In a 6- to 8-quart heavy saucepan or dutch oven, melt butter and cook onion over moderate heat until softened, about 4 minutes.
- Add olive oil and flour and whisk constantly for 3 minutes.
- Add broth and milk and stir occasionally until mixture comes to a boil.
- Simmer, continuing to stir occasionally, for 5 minutes or until thickened.
- Stir in Tabasco, chili powder, cumin, salt and white pepper.
- Add chilies, beans and chicken and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. If serving later, take off heat and leave on stove (if 1 or so hours) or refrigerate. Slowly heat for approximately 20 minutes when ready to eat.
Note: If you prefer to use dried beans, in a large kettle soak beans in cold water to cover by 2 inches overnight. Drain beans in a colander and return to kettle with cold water to cover by 2 inches. Cook beans at a bare simmer until tender, about 1 hour, and drain in colander.