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March 05, 2009

            Welcome back to the kitchen. You know, recipe inspiration can strike almost any time, almost anywhere. I won’t bore you with overly long details of my own deeply personal and intensely varied food fantasies. But by way of example I once spent the large part of a week long Zen Buddhist meditation retreat in the mountains of South India planning the intricate menu details of a fantasy restaurant I wanted to open. Believe it or not, I was able to actually reconstruct a few of those meditative recipes in my kitchen stateside.

            Now, I’m not suggesting that you go on a vision quest or consult your dream journal before planning your next dinner party (although whatever works for you, go for it). But rather, I’m just saying that the next great dish is always just around the corner, waiting to be discovered.

            Of course, one of the more conventional places to find recipes is to ask your favorite chefs. This week I tasted a white bean and chicken chili at Leavenworth’s O’Grady’s Pantry that was so phenomenal I just had to ask chef Joanna Tiffany for the recipe. Joanna was nice enough to write down the method for this rich, spicy, tangy, delicious stew, so I thought we’d try it together.

            And remember, you can certainly find some sort of dried white bean that was grown in the Palouse. Some of you have access to locally raised chicken, which is great, and others will have garden grown carrots still in storage with the root vegetables. And some of the spices can be locally grown, processed, and dried. The point is, we can get some local cooking in with this white bean chicken chili.

            So, here is Joanna’s recipe. Oh, and one important thing to note is that this recipe makes a LOT of chili, enough for almost 10 people:




àSoak 2lbs of White Beans (such as cannellini, runner, lima, or any other dry white bean) for at least 3 hours, or even better overnight if you have the time. I particularly like this chicken chili with the nutty, giant cannellini bean, but use whatever you can find.


àBring the soaked beans to a boil in 2+ gallons of chicken stock in your big soup pot, then reduce the heat down to a simmer. We want to simmer the beans until they are fully tender, which can take up to an hour.


By the way, it is really quite simple to make your own homemade chicken stock with the carcass of one roast chicken, some chopped onions, carrots, and celery, and some minced parsley, salt, and fresh ground pepper. Just simmer the chicken bones and veggies for at least an hour and a half and then strain off the stock and its ready to use.


àIn a big cast iron pan with a few tablespoons of olive oil, sauté:

            -1½ yellow onions, diced

            -2 green bell peppers, chopped

            -1 red pepper, also chopped

            -and for good measure, chop 1 yellow pepper

            -also slice up 2 big carrots

(Joanna says to chop all the veggies to a medium dice, think soup spoon size)


àSauté the veggies until they get a bit tender, then stir them in to the stock and beans.


àAdd a little more olive oil to the pan and heat it up to medium high. Dice up 3lbs of fresh, boneless chicken breast and sauté it until it’s almost done, stirring occasionally. This should take a little less than 10 minutes.


àAdd to the chicken:

            -1/2 cup powdered cumin

            -1 tablespoon (T.) chili powder

            -1 teaspoon (t.) salt

            -1 t. ground coriander

            -1 t. chipotle powder

            -1 t. dried oregano

            -1 t. garlic powder

            -1/4 t. cayenne (to taste, this stuff can be very spicy, but I think that’s a good thing)


àLower the heat and add to the sautéing chicken and spices:

            -2 cubes of butter and 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic (several peeled cloves). Let the butter melt, then slowly add ¼ to ½ cup of flour. Mix the flour with the butter, garlic, chicken and spices, making sure there are no giant flour lumps.


àNow add the chicken and spice mixture to the big stock pot of broth and beans. Stir over a low heat until the chili thickens up a bit. Finally, add 2 small cans of diced green chilis and a mountain of fresh chopped cilantro. Let this all simmer for a bit longer on low, then serve with a little dollop of sour cream or some grated sharp cheddar and some diced green onions. Delicious!


Like all soups and stews, this white bean chicken chili is going to be even better when we reheat it tomorrow. Maybe then we can bake up some fresh cornbread and dice up a little homemade pico de gallo salsa. For now, I’m just going to kick back with a big bowl and a local IPA, and be thankful I got my hands on Joanna’s awesome chili recipe.


I’d love to hear what you’re cooking these days. If you have any recipe question or suggestions, join us in the comments section online at Cooking local in the KOHO Kitchen, I’m Isaac Kaplan-Woolner.




1/2 cup cumin? really?!?!

I got a call from a listener asking if this recipe really calls for 1/2 cup of cumin. Joanna confirms that yes, indeed, this giant vat of chili calls for LOTS of this sweat sock spice (as my father always calls it). This is also a unique chili in that it has no tomato products in it, but gets penty of sweetness from all the bell peppers and other veggies. Enjoy! (and thanks again Joanna)

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