I didn’t know what to expect from an email with the subject line: “Lemon cheesecake frustration.”
A request for advice? Nah.
Commiserating words of encouragement over my recent recipe failure? Nope.
The email started with a critique about my recent No Budget Cooking Series review and ended with a suggestion to try this White Chicken Chili recipe found on a can of Bush’s Great Northern beans.
The criticism wasn’t a mean spirited personal attack. It seemed intended more as suggestions on how to better handle failed recipes in the series. A few email exchanges later confirmed my suspicions that was indeed the reader’s intent.
I welcome thoughtful reader feedback because I’m always open to ideas to improve the usefulness of these reviews. Still, you don’t have to include critiques with recipe suggestions.
White Chicken Chili
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 (4 ounces) can chopped green chilies, drained
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 (15.8 ounces) cans Bush’s Great Northern Beans
1 (14.5 ounces) can chicken broth
1½ cups finely chopped cooked chicken breast
In large skillet, cook onion in oil for 4 minutes or until transparent.
Add chilies, flour and cumin; cook and stir for 2 minutes.
Add beans and chicken broth; bring to a boil.
Reduce heat; simmer for 10 minutes or until thickened.
Add chicken; cook until hot.
Garnish with cheese, sour cream and salsa, if desired.
(Recipe from Bush’s)
TASTING NOTES: Minimal seasoning, notably the lack of added salt, combined with mild mannered flavors of Great Northern beans and chicken had me doubting the appeal of this dish. Cumin flavor and heat from the green chilies dashed those doubts.
A small pop of chili heat and cumin, being cumin, push the flavor profile closer to chicken enchilada than typical chili. Adding a tablespoon of chili powder, as the suggested by the submitter, will push it back toward typical chili territory.
EQUIPMENT: Cutting board, knife, two measuring spoons, a measuring cup (if you insist on measuring the chicken) and skillet or pot. Add a can opener to the list if your green chilies and beans don’t have pull-tab tops.
PRACTICALITY: Easy. Mostly. Heating flour with the chilies and onions for 2 minutes before adding liquid caused the clump to form dumplings. I like dumplings, but when the flour is clumped into wads it’s not thickening the chili. I broke apart the clumps as the chili simmered. After consulting with the recipe submitter, I confirmed my initial suspicion that I should have first whisked a splash of chicken broth with the flour-onion-chilies and slowly added more broth until it formed a rue before adding the rest of the broth and beans.
COST: $6-$7. More if you don’t have leftover chicken.
HACKS/INSIGHTS: Gosh I wish every recipe would tell me if I should use medium or high or medium-high or whatever setting. Why make us guess like we’re competing in cooking contest? At least contestants have a chance to win wonderful prizes. Home cooks just want to win the approval of the people they’re serving. Or at least the consolation prize of a meal that doesn’t suck.
Anyway, I used medium-high heat to sauté onions and heat the flour-chilies addition. I cranked the heat to high to bring the chili to a boil then used medium-low for simmering.
I almost drained and rinsed the beans before adding them to the pot. That would have been a mistake. There is 470 milligrams of sodium per serving of these beans and about seven servings in this chili. Two cans of beans adds approximately 1½ teaspoons of salt.
Draining and rinsing the beans would have reduced the salt in this dish and likely made for a blander tasting experience. However, if you regularly find foods too salty, you may want to experiment with draining some of the bean juice. Taste and adjust seasoning to your taste. You might also need more broth or water.
There’s no need to use only chicken breast. I used leg and thigh meat because those pieces are generally shunned upon first serving of the rotisserie chicken in the Higgins Eats home. Use whatever bits you have leftover.
More: Enjoy pumpkin pie filling in the form of muffins with this No Budget Cooking Series recipe
More: Make this Bolognese sauce if you’re a novice home cook with a few extra minutes to spare | No Budget Cooking Series
More: Easy recipes tested and reviewed here. Follow these links to past No Budget Cooking Series stories
TEACH ME YOUR RECIPE: Do you have an easy family recipe you’d like to share? Email it to me for consideration as part of the No Budget Cooking Series.
ABOUT THIS SERIES: I test recipes found on food packages in my very average kitchen with my moderately above average cooking talent and meh presentation skills. I’ll provide some insights and basic cooking tips. If you don’t find these stories useful, hopefully you find them entertaining.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Transform leftover chicken into chili for a quick weeknight meal | No Budget Cooking Series recipe review