maureen tanKENTUCKY (12/04/12) - I love when I make a recipe for the first time, and it works. Of course, we’re talking chili today, not beef bourguignon.

Still, things happen, right?

I was in my early teens when I stood at the electric stove and cooked my first pot of chili. It was a time when I would tear the sides of my blue jeans to add a triangle of paisley, multi-colored material to create a larger bell-bottom, and wear my older sister Anne’s platform shoes so I could reach the knobs on the back of the stove.

Yes. I just related stirring a pot of chili to my somewhat innocent, prepubescent life of the 70s.

The chili of my youth was loaded with tomatoes, dark red kidney beans, onions, green peppers, and ground beef. It wasn’t as spicy as some of the chili I make these days, but cooking a pot of chili, is, by far, one of those comfort-food experiences that makes me happy, instantly transporting me, with its sweet, warm, belly-full of goodness.

Plus chili makes great leftovers, which means less time spent in the kitchen.

I cooked my first pot of chicken chili after visiting with my family in PA for my niece’s wedding this past October. It was a revelation of sorts.

My sister, Eileen, had prepared Rachel Ray’s buffalo chicken chili. It was simmering on the stovetop when I’d arrived from the airport to her house.

I was over the moon with the fiery scent of spicy wings. And I don’t even like to eat chicken wings. But I do like to eat less meat.

Plus Elvis loves chili, and buffalo chicken wings.

When I got back to KY, I went ahead, bought the ingredients, and then casually mentioned to Elvis that I was cooking chili.

With ground chicken, not beef.

I should mention, I’d previously tried to switch out the protein base in a few pots of chili, without telling Elvis, subbing ground beef with a little pork and turkey, for instance. But Elvis loves his chili. He’d called me out.

You think I’d know better.

But what I did know is, he’d go for it. Because I’d also mentioned cornbread pancakes to go along with the chicken chili.

And although Rachel Ray’s chili was good, easy-to prepare, easier on our waistlines and hearts (minus the cornbread), I won’t be making that recipe again.

Elvis doesn’t like buffalo chicken wings that much after all.

My Chicken and White Bean Chili recipe came about from a pound of ground chicken that I’d bought and froze.

I was optimistic about that ground chicken chili idea, huh?

So instead of making Buffalo Chicken Chili, or Garlic-Parmesan Chicken Meatballs (mmm, Reagan really enjoyed those), I thought of the chili of my youth.

And did a little subbing. Again.

beans chicken

Chicken Chili with White Beans

•1/4 cup olive oil
•1 yellow onion, chopped
•1 tablespoon shallots
•1 pound ground chicken
•3 cups fresh tomato juice*
•1 six ounce can tomato paste
•1 tablespoon or about 6 slices Pickled jalapeño hot & sweet, diced, plus more for garnish
•1 can Northern beans, drained
•1 four ounce can green chile peppers, diced
•1/2 teaspoons cumin
•1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
•tablespoons chili powder
•1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted and ground
•Kosher salt and black pepper, to season meat and taste
•2 tablespoons Masa
•1 whole lime, quartered or sliced for garnish plus 2 teaspoons lime juice
•Sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, sliced jalapenos (optional)

•In large stockpot, heat olive oil on medium heat, add onions, shallots, and cook, stirring occasionally, about four minutes. If onions start to brown, reduce heat a bit.
•Add ground chicken and break it up with the back of wooden spoon. Do not brown. Cook about five minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink.
•Add tomatoes, paste, seasonings and stir.
•Cover with a vented lid, reduce heat to low, and simmer thirty minutes.
•Add beans and diced green chile. Continue to cook about five minutes.
•Taste and adjust with salt and pepper.
•Add 2 teaspoons lime juice and stir.
•To thicken chicken chili, add masa to 1/4 cup of warm water, stir, and then add to chili.
•Serve immediately.
•Top chili with sour cream, lime wedges, shredded cheddar cheese and sliced jalapenos, (optional).
•Refrigerate unused portions for up to a week, or freeze for up to two months.

*If a chunkier chili is desired, sub a twenty-eight ounce can of chopped tomatoes, drained

Maureen C. Berry
Freelance Writer and Blogger
Visit Maureen’s nationally renowned culinary website at

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