White Chili

While I’ve always loved the idea of white chili, the reality was often disappointing. By adding flavorful dark meat and my own fire roasted chiles, I’ve finally created a version that’s impossible to resist.


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1 16-ounce package dried great northern white beans
8 cups cold water
3 pounds chicken pieces, breasts and thighs
6 cups water (for poaching chicken)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
~ freshly ground black pepper
2 medium onions, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 roasted pasilla chiles, seeded
2 roasted anaheim chiles, seeded
2 roasted jalapeno chiles, seeded
8 cups chicken broth, divided
~ chopped fresh cilantro
4 limes, for garnish
  1. Check the beans for small stones and debris, then put them in a large strainer and rinse under cool water.
  2. Transfer the beans to a large bowl and add the 8 cups of water. Cover and soak overnight.
  3. Drain the beans and set aside.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over a medium-high flame.
  5. Sprinkle the chicken breasts and thighs with 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper to taste. Sauté until golden brown.
  6. Finish cooking the chicken by poaching: Bring the 6 cups of water to a lively simmer in a large pot. Add the browned chicken pieces, cover with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes, until cooked through.
  7. Remove the chicken and cool. Discard the skin. Strip the meat from the bones and shred with a fork. Set aside.|
  8. Add the onions to the pan and sauté until softened, 3–4 minutes.
  9. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
  10. Clear a space in the pan and add the cumin and coriander, allowing the dry spices to roast directly on the pan for 30 seconds. Mix them into the onion-garlic mixture.
  11. Chop the roasted chiles and add to the mixture.
  12. Add the remaining salt.
  13. Add 6 cups of the broth and bring to a boil.
  14. Add the beans, cover with a lid and return the pot to a boil. Adjust the heat and simmer until the beans are soft, 1 1/2–2 hours.
  15. Stir in the shredded chicken.Note: If you prefer to make the chili in advance, it will absorb all of its liquid overnight in the refrigerator. Use the 2 reserved cups of broth to replenish the liquid when heating the dish to serve.
  16. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
  17. Ladle the chili into bowls and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.
  18. Serve with lime wedges, for spritzing.



Preparation Time: 
approximately 2 ½ hours, plus overnight soaking of the beans.