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Aug 8, 2009 10:51 PM

White Chicken Chili Not Quite Right

I had an opportunity to sample a variety of chilis at a local chili cook-off this past 4th of July (here in Frederick, MD) and my favorite was a fantastic white chicken chili with cilantro and lime squeezed on just before serving. It had a wonderful smooth mouthfeel and a creamy-but-not-in-a-dairy sort of consistency. Everyone in my family loved it and even my six-year old son ate the canellini beans.

Anyway, naturally being the chowhounder that I am, I decided to try and replicate it at home.

I took a few recipes from the interweb and intermingled them, basically braising some chicken thighs in stock, then adding carmelized onions, cannellini beans, cilantro, lime, cumin, salt, pepper, and some fresh corn. It came out tasting great, but it came out more like a soup then a thick, stewy chili. I've made it twice since, varying the amount of liquid, but it's still not right. I've made red chili many times and never had to add a roux or any sort of thickener.

I was watching past episodes of 'Good Eats' off of my DVR and noticed that AB uses crushed up tortilla chips to thicken his chili. I thought I'd put this out to the brain trust before I try it again. Any ideas?

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  1. Try pureeing a little of the cooked cannellini beans to thicken the chili.

    5 Replies
    1. re: PBSF

      I, too, mash some of the beans to thicken the chili.

      1. re: mollygirl

        I saw a show on Food Network this morning, He did a chicken chili recipe that might be of interest to you. I would use fresh cilantro and lime at the end to duplicate what you want.

        1. re: horseshoe

          Thanks for the link, horseshoe. Looks like he uses a roux. I definitely agree on the fresh cilantro and lime at the end, I also use some finely diced green onions.

          Never thought of using the bean puree to thicken, that's a great idea. I think I'll make this for my co-workers next week. They're always a good test audience before I bring a recipe home (Soldiers will eat darn near anything).


          1. re: SgtStens

            I'd use pureed beans as a thicken long before I used a roux in a white chile.

            Red chiles are traditionally thickened by reduction cooking; but are also thickened with corn chips, or just some masa harina flour.

      2. re: PBSF

        That's it right there.

        Also, puree some onion and green peppers/chilis as well.


      3. I also puree some beans when I make mine. I also roast tomatillos & pasilla peppers & puree those in the mix.

        1. I usually expect white chicken chili to be soupy, but I do have one recipe which I love that calls for ground up tortillas to be stirred in which gives it a nice thickness.