When I teach classes in the evening, I often don’t get home until 9 or 10. Two years ago, that might have felt like a perfectly respectable dinner time, but now it’s late, too late to start making dinner, messing up the kitchen, and (god forbid) waking up the baby.
I’ve had to come up with some recipes that I can start in the afternoon and enjoy when I get home in the evening, recipes that are settable and forgettable, that Seth can enjoy at regular dinner time (7:20 in the best of cases) and that I can enjoy when I get home…and ideally for breakfast the next morning.
Enter White Bean Chicken Chili. This recipe is based on one from my all-time favorite restaurant, The Wildflour in Roanoke, VA.
White Bean Chicken Chili
1 Whole Chicken; roasted, picked, and shredded
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Onion, diced
1 Large Garlic Clove, minced
1 Poblano Pepper, diced
1 (16 oz.) Can Cannellini Beans, rinsed and drained
2-3 c. Chicken or Veggie Stock (water’s fine too)
a couple of teaspoons each: Cumin, Chili Powder, Goya Seasoning, Salt, Pepper
(Special Equipment: Immersion Blender)
Heat olive oil on medium in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Add onion, garlic, and pepper; and cook unti translucent. Add spices, stir, and cook for another minute. Once the scent of cumin is sufficiently filling your kitchen and nostrils, add Cannellini Beans and stock. Give soup a couple of buzzes with the immersion blender*.
Add chicken, and turn heat to the lowest setting. Allow to simmer, bubbling gently on the stove, until you’re hungry. Serve with a bit of rice (or some bread from the Wildflour bakery.) I garnish mine with a bit of cilantro and some sour cream, which is completely superfluous and just points to a greater issue: I have a Sour Cream Problem.
* Don’t have an immersion blender? You can leave everything chunky like god intended, or you can mash up your beans and veg a bit with a potato masher or fork. Lightly mashing the beans provides that non-cream creaminess to the final product.
Allow me to take a second to wax hungry on my favorite eatin’ spot: The Wildflour opened in 1991, in the Old Southwest neighborhood of my beloved Star City. I literally grew up on it.
The big open ceilings and warm scent of baking bread at The Wildflour’s 4th St. location can conjure a hungry stomach flip from me even now. Ginger used to tell me how the spot had been converted from an old grocery store, one that her grandparents would frequent back when Old Southwest was just Southwest. We would go as a family or with out-of-town guests, and everyone would get two courses because soup there is a must. Their soups are so spectacular, in fact, that both courses could very well be soup.
Then once the Towers Mall location opened, Mom and I would eat there almost every Monday, after I got finished with debate (3-6; I’ll never forget.) The soup on Monday was Hungarian Mushroom, a creamy, earthy soup with a hint of paprika that warmed me through on cold school nights.
I’ve cooked at plenty of fine dining spots and eaten at even more of them. But The Wildflour is still my favorite because it is completely unpretentious and consistently delicious. Doug’s Chicken Salad, Evie’s Red Beans and Rice, Gazpacho, Bozeman Tostada – these are the dishes I grew up eating, the equivalent of “mom’s cooking” to me, dishes I have been trying to replicate for years, dishes that stand the test of time.