Snow or Bust

snowman

We made it to the snow!  Every year we have plans to go, but someone gets sick or we’re not brave enough to make the drive in a storm (my husband and I have many stories of getting stuck in the snow).  My six year old was excited from the get go.  He was up for it all sledding, learning to ski, eating icicles, catching snowflakes, etc.  My daughter, age three had never seen snow.  I thought it would be quite interesting.  She only wears ballet clothes (whether it’s dance day or not) and does not like long sleeves, outerwear and cold.  I had a feeling I’d be inside with her while my husband and son snow enjoy the great outdoors.  

 

I planned on a game marathon with her and cooking some hearty slow foods.  Whenever I think of snow I think of chili and soups.  Yum!  However, she proved me wrong.  She loved the snow – after the initial shock that it is cold and turtlenecks and snow suits are made for a reason.  She even wanted to go to ski school like big brother.  And we all had too many hot chocolates in the lodge not to have fun.  I have a feeling we’ll be heading up again soon. 

 

I made and brought my white bean and chicken chili for this trip.  It’s an easy make ahead dish for transporting in an ice chest and makes enough for hungry people for lunch or dinner after snow play.  You can make this without the chicken too for the vegetarian skiiers.

 

White Bean and Chicken Chili (from Petit Appetit: Eat, Drink and Be Merry)

The origin of this recipe is from San Francisco Flavors, by the San Francisco Junior League. The original is great, but not many parents with small children have two hours to allow a stew to cook, let alone remember to soak dried beans overnight. The prep time is reduced in this recipe by using canned beans and sautéing the cooked chicken in the spices to soak up additional flavor that would come out from the slow-cooking process. You can reduce your time further if you have leftover chicken on-hand or buy pre-cooked chicken and pre-shredded cheese. This version for busy families takes only 35 to 40 minutes from start to finish.

 Makes 12 cups

 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

½ (4-ounce) can chopped mild green chilies, or 2 fresh chilies, roasted, seeded, and chopped

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 pounds cooked boneless, skinless, organic free-range chicken (can be left over or purchased pre-cooked)

2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

4 cups organic low-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water

2 cups shredded Monterey jack or mozzarella cheese (rBGH free)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

In a large stock pot over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and sauté until soft, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic, chilies, cumin, oregano, cloves, and red pepper flakes and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Mix in chicken and cook for 2 minutes. Add beans and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice.

 Transfer 1 cup of the broth to a small bowl and whisk in cornstarch mixture. Stir cornstarch mixture back into pot, cover, and cook another 5 minutes, stirring, to thicken.

 Add 1 cup of the cheese to the pot and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with remaining cheese.

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