Well, I don’t know about you, but I am SO ready for fall.
I adore summer and am always sad to see it go, but nothing beats the crisp, cool air of fall mornings, football on Sundays, the smell of spiced baked goods wafting from the oven, and warm bowls of cozy soups and stews. Oh, and the apples! And pears! And squash! All of it is good, people. ALL of it.
Today’s chili is a perfect way to kick off soup season. Here’s the thing about chili: I rarely follow a recipe. Yes, even my own recipes. While I use recipes for chili that we love over and over again, I definitely make each batch a little differently each time. It’s a taste-as-you-go type thing. While my ultimate chili recipe is this one, I get bored easily and need to switch things up several times each year (and thank goodness for that. If I stuck to the same thing all the time, I never would have discovered this incredible bowl of comfort. You guys seriously need to try that one. Insanity…in the best way, of course).
Which brings me to today’s recipe. White chicken chili loaded with tons of peppers, white beans, shredded chicken, and the last of my summer corn stash. I think this one might be the new household fav. Dan declared it the best one yet, and I think that’s because he isn’t a super big fan of chili powder itself…which obviously is a major player in red chili recipes. This chili is milder on the chili powder side of things but LOADED with flavor in the way of cumin, coriander, and the briny tang of pickled jalapeños. The sweet corn takes things over the top.
I took a short cut with this recipe and threw in the shredded meat from a store-bought rotisserie chicken. Not only did it make my life a ton easier, but it added a special richness to the chili itself. Rotisserie chicken is one of my favorite short cuts, and I buy one a couple times a month. Not only does it add the extra flavor of slow-roasted chicken, but the meat is cooked to perfection. No dried out meat here! The flavor of this chili is so rich and wonderful, you don’t even need to add cheese on top while serving! Blasphemous, I know. But trust me. You just don’t need it (and that’s coming from Mrs. Cheese herself).
And while the chili is perfect all on it’s own, topped with a dollop of sour cream, fresh scallions/herbs, and maybe some lime juice, I couldn’t stop there. I couldn’t help myself. Cornbread was in order.
What goes better with chili anyway? Nothing. Cornbread and chili were meant to be made and eaten together. When I tasted the chili and did my subsequent happy dance, though, I knew it couldn’t be just any old cornbread. It had to be special.
So! I browned some butter (swoon!) and got to work. The resulting cornbread is incredibly decadent and serves as the perfect sponge for all that wonderful chili broth. It tastes like brown butter and maple syrup, has the most tender, moist crumb, and…the best part? It all happens in one skillet. Super easy. Super fun.
Fall perfection, for sure.
1 tablespoon oil
1 large onion, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
2 poblano peppers, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons chili powder
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups shredded, cooked chicken (I buy a cooked chicken from the store to keep my life easy)
2 (15-oz) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup pickled jalapeños, diced
2 tablespoons of the jalapeño pickling liquid
1 cup frozen or fresh corn
3 cups baby spinach
Splash of milk (optional)
Juice of 2 limes
Salt and pepper, to taste
Sour cream, for serving
Additional limes, for serving
Hot sauce or chili flakes, for serving
Fresh cilantro, for serving
1½ sticks unsalted butter
⅓ cup maple syrup
1¼ cups buttermilk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1½ cups cornmeal
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup whole-wheat flour
¼ cup sugar
1½ tablespoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and peppers with a pinch of salt and cook for 5 minutes.
Add in the garlic and spices and cook for another minute. Add in the chicken broth and bring to a simmer.
Add in the chicken, half the beans, jalapeños, and pickling liquid. Add another pinch of salt and some black pepper. Return the mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for 20-25 minutes.
Meanwhile, mash the remaining beans with a fork to break them down. Stir the mashed beans into the pot, along with the spinach, corn, and lime juice. Simmer for another 15-20 minutes or until the mixture is thickened. At this point, I added in a splash of whole milk on a whim, just to ensure there was a richer, thicker consistency. This is totally optional but worked really well for me.
Season, to taste, with additional salt and pepper. Serve with the cornbread and garnished with sour cream, additional fresh lime juice, chili flakes/hot sauce, and some chopped fresh cilantro.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Heat a large cast-iron skillet (I used a 14-inch skillet) over medium and add the butter. Swirl the skillet until the butter is melted. Allow the butter to foam up and then turn a light brown color, watching it carefully so it doesn’t burn.
Remove the skillet from the heat and immediately whisk in the maple syrup and buttermilk, being careful as it might splatter. Once the liquids are well incorporated, whisk in the eggs.
In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients by whisking them together well. Carefully add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in the skillet and stir until well combined.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cornbread is firm in the middle and golden brown around the edges. Allow to cool slightly in the pan before slicing and serving with the chili.
Cornbread recipe lightly adapted from here.