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On Cooking Southern: Chicken and White Bean Chili and Mini Corn Muffins


By Laurie Triplette


Southernism of the Week:

Jackleg: Refers to someone who is unskilled, unprofessional and probably unscrupulous performing some activity or service for which that person claims to have skill and ability. Particularly applicable to some preachers, lawyers and roofers just down the road… or to the plumbers and electricians who neglected to insulate the water pipes running inside our exterior house walls… 


Epiphany has come and gone. The holiday trimmings are out on the curb at last, and the holiday leftovers that I didn’t freeze have been repurposed about as far as they could go. It’s time to clean house and restock the pantry.

It’s also time to fight the inevitable post-holiday blues by simmering a pot of white bean chicken chili. This dish combines a soul-restoring chicken soup component with the beans’ healthful protein and vitamin nutrients.  

What better way to fend off the frigid Alberta Clipper weather that’s blowing into town this week?  


whitebeanchili-DSCN9644Is it chili, or is it soup or is it stew? Whatever you want to call it, this recipe is a hearty tummy-filler on a cold winter’s night. A down-and-dirty version may be whipped up within 40 minutes on stovetop. For the busy household, transfer the ingredients to a slow cooker early in the morning in order to end the day with a robust, nourishing comfort food. Feel free to interchange “white” cannellini beans (indigenous to Italy) with Great Northern or navy beans (both indigenous to the Americas). 

4 T extra light olive oil

3 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes

3 large cloves of garlic, minced

2 sweet onions, chopped

1 tsp cumin

1-1/2 T Creole seasoning

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

28-oz can of diced tomatoes

4-oz can of roasted green chilies

2 (15.5-oz) cans of cannellini beans; plus a third can, optional

48-oz carton of chicken broth

Juice of 1 to 2 limes (2 to 3 T lime juice)

1 T lime zest

Grated Mexican cheese

Sour cream

Diced avocado, optional

Chopped cilantro, optional 

This chili may be made as a stovetop 40-minute supper or as an all-day slow cooker dish. Start either version by heating the beans in the chicken broth (either in a stock pot on stovetop or in a large slow cooker. 

Cube the raw chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large (12-inch) sauté or frying pan. Add the onions and garlic; sauté until the onion is transparent. Add the chicken and cover for about 5 minutes. Remove lid and turn the chicken. Continue simmering until the chicken has been seared on all sides. Add the seasonings and simmer about 5 more minutes.  

Mix in the cans of tomatoes and diced chilies with can liquid. Stir to blend and continue simmering, stirring occasionally until the tomato liquid has been absorbed. Add the chicken mixture to the stockpot or slow cooker of heated beans and broth.  

STOVETOP: Simmer on stovetop, uncovered, adding the lime juice and zest after 10 minutes. Continue simmering, stirring as liquid reduces, for about 10 more minutes. SLOW

COOKER:  Add the lime juice and zest 20 minutes before serving, at the time when thickening the broth. To thicken, remove a cup of liquid and use it to puree a third can of beans; add the pureed beans to the slow cooker. 

 Top individual servings with condiments such as cubed avocado, sour cream, grated cheese and chopped cilantro.  Serve with Southwest Corn Mini Muffins. 


minicornmuffins-DSCN9670This is a twist on regular Southwest Cornbread. If choosing to make regular size muffins, reduce the amount of baking powder to 2 teaspoons and use the minimum amount of cheese.

1/2  c butter, softened

1/2 c white granulated sugar

2 eggs

1/2  c of all-purpose flour

1/2  c plain yellow or white corn meal (not self-rising)

1 T baking powder

1/2  tsp salt

2 ears fresh corn, boiled, cut off cob 

1/2 c cream, plus more as needed

4-oz can of diced green chilies

1/2 to 1 c Monterey jack cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350˚F . Grease mini-muffin pans with shortening or nonstick cooking spray. Cream butter, sugar and eggs together in a large bowl. Sift dry ingredients together and mix into batter until smooth.  

Puree the cut corn with cream. Add more cream to bring volume up to 1-1/2 c. (May use a can of corn, drained to achieve same result.)

Mix creamed corn, chilies, and cheese into the batter in this order. Bake in preheated oven on lower rack for approximately 20 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove to rack to cool. YIELDS 36 mini-muffins.

Laurie Triplette is a writer, historian, and accredited appraiser of fine arts, dedicated to preserving Southern culture and foodways. Author of the award-winning community family cookbook GIMME SOME SUGAR, DARLIN’, and editor of ZEBRA TALES (Tailgating Recipes from the Ladies of the NFLRA), Triplette is a member of the Association of Food Journalists (AFJ),Southern Foodways Alliance (SFA)  and the Southern Food and Beverage Museum (SOFAB). Check out the GIMME SOME SUGAR, DARLIN’ web site and follow Laurie’s food adventures on Facebook and Twitter (@LaurieTriplette). 



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