I’m running off to work, so here is the ingredient list for those who shop ahead of time. I’ll post the instructions tonight.

ETA: The recipe!

My own warning — please use latex or latex alternative disposable gloves when cutting up and handling cut-up chiles! I’ve learned this the hard way when I took out my contact lenses a few hours after cutting up chiles. Soap will NOT remove the capsaicin! Christina gave me the disposable glove trick and I always make sure we’ve got a box in the kitchen. I cut them on a smaller cutting board that isn’t my main one, too. The gloves are helpful for cutting up garlic, as well, as that aroma likes to stick around. Also, Kevin and I have made chili that was way higher than our comfort level on the Scoville scale, simply by being too generous with the jalapeños. If you don’t like spicy, or will be sharing this dish with someone who doesn’t, be careful. I love spicy, but eating that chili caused my one and only case of heartburn, we both had tummy issues as a result, and we had to throw out most of it. 😦

I think they can be added safely to taste once in individual bowls (that’s just my amateur chef opinion, though).

White Chicken Chili

(from The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook, 2011, p 98-9)

Why This Recipe Works

Chili made with chicken promises a lighter, fresher alternative to the red kind, but most of the time, the resulting chili is bland and watery and the chicken is dry, rather than moist and flavorful. We found not one but three solutions to boring chicken chili. To solve the problem of insufficient chile flavor, we used a trio of fresh chiles: jalapeño, poblano, and New Mexican. To fix the watery sauce, we puréed some of our sautéed aromatics (a mix of chiles, garlic, and onions) and broth with beans to thicken the base. And finally, to avoid floating bits of rubbery chicken, we browned, poached, and shredded bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, which gave our chicken pieces a tender texture and full flavor.

Test Kitchen Tip No. 21: How Hot Is That Chile?

In the test kitchen, we’ve noticed that some jalapeños are searingly hot, while others are mild as bell peppers. We tracked down a number of theories to explain this great variation — and size kept popping up. According to this theory, a small chile will be hotter than a larger one. But when we arranged a tasting of jalapeños of various sizes, there seemed to be no correlation between size and heat. To investigate the matter further, we sent five similarly sized jalapeños to the lab, requesting levels of capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin (the compounds responsible for the majority of the perception of “heat”). Sure enough, some chiles were nearly 10 times hotter than others — even though they all looked alike.

One burning question remained: Are there any visual indicators of pungency? No, says Danise Coon of the Chile Pepper Institute, who explained that capsaicin production is tied to the environment. Chiles grown in sunny, arid weather undergo a lot of stress, and stressed chiles produce more capsaicin than chiles grown in temperate climates. (Hot, dry New Mexico is known for producing very hot chiles.)

Until someone comes up with a procedure for diagnosing stressed-out chiles, then, the only surefire way to judge the heat level of a chile is to taste it. If you want more control over the heat when you’re cooking with chiles, start with an easy-to-measure heat source such as cayenne, red pepper flakes, or chili-garlic paste, then layer on modest amounts of fresh chiles, removing the ribs and seeds if you want less heat.

Serves 6 to 8

Adjust the heat in this dish by adding the minced ribs and seeds from the jalapeños as directed in step 6. If New Mexican chiles cannot be found, add an additional poblano and jalapeño to the chili. Serve this chili with sour cream, tortilla chips, and lime wedges.

3 pounds bone-in split chicken breasts or thighs, trimmed
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus extra as needed
3 jalapeño chiles
3 poblano chiles, stemmed, seeded, and cut into large pieces
3 New Mexico chile peppers, stemmed, seeded and cut into large pieces
2 onions, cut into large pieces
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1.5 teaspoons ground coriander
2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons lime juice (2 limes)
.25 cup minced fresh cilantro
4 scallions, sliced thin

1. Season chicken with 1 teaspoon salt and .25 teaspoon pepper. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add chicken, skin side down, and cook without moving until skin is golden brown, about 4 minutes. Using tongs, flip chicken and lightly brown on other side, about 2 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate; remove and discard skin.

2. While chicken is browning, remove and discard ribs and seeds from 2 jalapeños, then mince jalapeños and set aside. Process half of poblano chiles, New Mexican chiles, and onions in food processor until consistency of chunky salsa, 10 to 12 pulses, scraping down sides of bowl halfway through. Transfer mixture to medium bowl. Repeat with remaining poblano chiles, New Mexican chiles, and onions; combine with first batch (do not wash food processor).

3. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from Dutch oven (adding additional vegetable oil if necessary) and reduce heat to medium. Add minced jalapeños, chile mixture, garlic, cumin, coriander, and .25 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat.

4. Transfer 1 cup cooked vegetable mixture to now-empty food processor. Add 1 cup beans and 1 cup broth and process until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add vegetable-bean mixture, remaining 2 cups broth, and chicken breasts to Dutch oven and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until chicken registers 160 degrees [F] (175 degrees [F] if using thighs), 15 to 20 minutes (40 minutes if using thighs).

5. Transfer chicken to large plate. Stir in remaining beans and continue to simmer, uncovered, until beans are heated through and chili has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.

6. Mince remaining jalapeño, reserving and mincing ribs and seeds, and set aside. When cool enough to handle, shred chicken into bite-size pieces, discarding bones. Stir shredded chicken, lime juice, cilantro, scallions, and remaining minced jalapeño (with seeds if desired) into chili and return to simmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

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