My mother worked at our elementary school as a teacher’s aide. Typically, her hours were 9 a.m. to 2 or 2:30 p.m., with most of that time spent checking books in and out in the library. She would get home and spend the rest of the afternoon preparing dinner. On occasion my father, a construction sales rep with a home-based office, would make dinner, but the evening meal was typically my mother’s domain. And, 5 p.m. was dinnertime.
Around Al Dente HQ, dinnertime is still 5 p.m. This is mostly a product of The Kid’s impatience with waiting to eat (Side note: My kid’s dinner rotation is yogurt and pancakes. She refuses to branch out.). Now, I know we’re a rarity. I have multiple friends with families who sit down for dinner anytime between 6 and 8 p.m. The Wife and I are blessed with jobs that start early and get us home around 4 p.m.
My mother would often make dinners that we time consuming. Sauces that had to reduce. Things that needed roasting. She would make soup from homemade broth that would take hours to cook down. In two-income households like mine, there is simply no time for that. In some cases, like chili, cooking in advance and saving it for later in the week is the only way to get that slow-cooked meal on a weeknight without freezing things.
Frankly, chili should be cooked in advance. You want to let it cool and sit for a day so all of the distinct flavors can mingle, marry and do whatever it is that they do. I made this Monday night and let it chill in my Olean fridge (better known as my uninsulated back porch that never topped 39 degrees this week) until Thursday.
WHAT WORKED: The corn. I’m not a big corn fan, but here it brought a little sweetness to the overall flavor profile (Side note: Flavor profile is an overused phrase. I think it was invented by Bobby Flay or Racheal Ray as a means of making them sound smarter than they really are. I’m ashamed to have used it.)
WHAT DIDN’T: The original recipe called for cauliflower and baking. Let’s take both of those in order. First, the cauliflower. Never. It’s the non-starter of vegetables when it comes to me. It tastes like garbage and puts a strain on my digestive system (and the olfactories of those with whom I live). As for baking, I skipped that and let it cook on my stovetop at medium heat for the prescribed time. It worked just as well, and I needed the oven to make dinner for that evening.
WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: “This is really good, but are you okay? There’s corn in this.”
WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: It certainly will. I like white chilis better than traditional red anyhow, so this will likely come back out at some point.
Chicken and poblano white chili
Adapted from Whole Foods Market
- 2 tbsp. expeller-pressed canola oil (Note: Regular canola or olive oil will work just fine here.)
- 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 1/2 tbsp. ground cumin
- 1 tbsp. chili powder
- 1 1/2 qt. low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 poblano peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped
- 1 (16 oz.) frozen white or yellow and white corn
- 1 can cannellini beans
- 1/2 cup lowfat sour cream
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, turning occasionally, until golden, about 10 minutes; transfer to a plate and set aside. Add onions to pot and cook until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in cumin and chili powder and cook 2 minutes more.
To the pot, add beans, chicken and its accumulated juices, broth, peppers, corn, and beans, and bring to a boil. Cover pot with a tight-fitting lid reduce the heat to just below the medium line and cook, stirring halfway through, until beans and cauliflower are both fall-apart tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Stir in sour cream and salt, ladle into bowls and serve.