White Chicken Chili

With holiday preparations in full swing, I'm guessing you are focused on last-minute shopping, holiday menu planning, and enjoying this wonderful time of year.  In our house, that also means our dinners are makeshift and as simple as possible.  Tonight was beans and franks, a throwback to my childhood that I secretly love but am a bit embarrassed to admit I'd feed to my family.  Earlier this week, we had white chicken chili from the freezer, which reminded me that I've been meaning to share this recipe for months.  

In the midst of the chaos happening at our house right now due to our impending travels (more on that after Christmas), we have found moments to sit down and enjoy the season.  Blythe understands a lot of what Christmas is about this year and it is magical.  Seeing her face light up and hearing the joy in her voice when she talks about Christmas is contagious.  Candy canes are her new favorite thing, she is mesmerized by our Christmas tree (lights! decorations!), and she is as obsessed as I am with reading Christmas books (including, but not limited to, The Polar Express, Eloise at Christmastime, Toot & Puddle's I'll Be Home for Christmas, Bear Stays Up for ChristmasOlivia Helps with Christmas, and a host of books by Jan Brett).  What are your favorites?  We took her to see a light display at the Denver Botanic Gardens, which I highly recommend if you are in Denver (they have light displays at both locations).

Back to the chili! A few years ago, my friend Sara brought me white chicken chili, which I'd never eaten before.  I was a little wary since it had only four main ingredients - chicken stock, white beans, chicken, and green chilis - but after one bite, I was convinced.  It's become a standby in our house - this chili is delicious, easy to make, has a short list of ingredients, and can even be made in the slow-cooker.  It freezes well and thus would make a great meal to drop off for a friend in need (as Sara did for me).  It's warming and delicious and perfect for colder temperatures and busy times.

In case it isn't obvious, I was struggling to take a good photo of 

White Chicken Chili
Recipe from my dear friend Sara
Serves 6-8

4 15.5-ounce cans Great Northern beans, drained (Cannellini beans also work)
2 pounds chicken breasts (I use boneless and skinless)
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups chicken stock (this chili is much better if you make your own and it really is easy)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium white onion, diced
2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons chili powder (use to taste)
1 tablespoon oregano
2 4-ounce cans chopped green chilis
16 oz. shredded Monterey jack cheese or a Mexican blend (I've also used mozzarella in a pinch)
Sour cream
1 avocado (garnish)

1. Boil chicken in salted water for 20-30 minutes. Remove and cube into bite-size pieces.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large pan suitable for cooking all of the chili.  I use my Le Creuset Dutch Oven.  Sauté the onions and garlic until clear (about 8 minutes).  Add the chicken, beans, chicken stock, cumin, nutmeg, chili powder, oregano, and chopped green chilis.  

3. Cook on low heat for 30 minutes, covered, stirring occasionally.  Add half of Monterey jack cheese and stir over low heat until the cheese melts.  Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking (I usually add more cumin), including adding salt and pepper.  Serve with sour cream and remaining cheese and slices of avocado.

* You can also make this in the slow cooker!  Complete step #1 above and complete step #2 through sautéing the onions and garlic.  Add all of the ingredients into the slow cooker and cook on low for approximately 4 hours.  Add half the cheese until it melts and adjust seasoning.

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