Chicken Chili

While I was in Arkansas, I received a recipe from Chef Suzie that was called ‘Maple Ridge White Tequila Chili’.  The recipe looked pretty good, but I didn’t have all of the ingredients on hand.  I altered the recipe to fit what was in my fridge. 

The Chili was great!  Warmingly spicy with a hint of fresh cilantro and tender chicken.  This is one I’ll make over and over again this winter.  Its also packed with vegetables and white beans.  What’s not to love?

My suggestion is to serve with your favorite tortilla chips, a sprinkle of cheddar cheese, and a dollop of sour cream.  YUM!

A note about flavors: Food Science lesson time!  Did you know there is a difference between a ‘taste’ and a ‘flavor’?  Taste is what you experience with your mouth and tongue– sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami (meaty or brothy).  Flavor is actually a combination of taste and aroma.  That’s why when you have a cold and your nose is all stuffed up, your food has no flavor.  Neat, huh?

Bringing out the flavors in food can be a little tricky.  Some flavors are water soluble– things like the chicken, vegetables, and herbs you use to make chicken stock.  Others are fat soluble- like the flavor of garlic cooked in oil.  And some are alcohol soluble– these are flavors like vanilla or almond extract.  Varying the method you use to extract flavors in a dish can change the flavor profile.  Try it!

In this recipe, a little tequila is added after sautéing vegetables and toasting spices.  The alcohol actually brings out MORE flavor!  Its part of what makes this chili so good.  If you’d like, you can skip this step.  Just keep in mind that the flavor won’t be as good.  😉


Chicken Chili

1 lb Great Northern Beans (dry)*

2 cloves garlic, smashed


3 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts

1-1/2 tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

1 tsp sugar

1 Tbsp chopped fresh garlic

1 Tbsp fresh lime juice

2 Tbsp water

3 Tbsp olive oil


1 large white onion, chopped

3 stalks celery, chopped

1 Anaheim pepper, seeded and chopped

2 Poblano peppers, seeded and chopped

3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped

2 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp canola oil

3 Tbsp cumin

3 Tbsp chili powder

2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp white pepper

1/2 cup good tequila

2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes (I used no salt added diced)

2 quarts reduced sodium Chicken Broth

1. BEANS:  Pick through and rinse the beans.  Place in a large bowl and cover by at least 2 inches with water.  Let sit overnight to soak.  Drain well, and place in a pot with the garlic.  Cover with fresh water by at least 2 inches.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about an hour or until beans are creamy and tender.  Drain and keep in refrigerator until ready to make chili.

2.  CHICKEN: Cut chicken breasts into filets (see Fajita chicken recipe for method here).  Place in a zip top bag.  Combine salt, pepper, sugar, garlic, lime juice, water and oil in a small bowl with a whisk.  Pour over chicken.  Close bag and shake to coat.  Let marinate for 30 minutes, turning once.  Grill over medium high heat for 3 minutes per side.  Let rest on a plate until ready to make the chili.  Cut into bite-size cubes.This step can also be done ahead.

3.  CHILI:  Heat the butter and oil over medium high heat until butter melts and begins to sputter.  Add onion, celery, and peppers.  Cook until soft, about 10 minutes.

4.  Add cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt and white pepper to vegetables.  Cook another 3 to 5 minutes, or until spices darken.  Add Tequila and cook an additional 3 minutes to reduce.

5.  Add stock, tomatoes, beans, and chicken.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 1 hour.  Season to taste with salt and pepper if needed.  If you’d like a thicker chili, add a couple Tbsp of quick cooking Tapioca and cook an additional 10 minutes to thicken.

*If you don’t want to take the time to soak the beans, you could use a #10 can of Great Northern beans.   Just be sure to rinse them well before adding to the chili.

What are you favorite chili toppings?


2 responses to “Chicken Chili

  1. sounds wonderful, Josie. what ingredients did you leave out / substitute?

  2. I didn’t have any carrots, so I omitted them and added the poblanos and anaheim peppers. I also reduced the stock from 4 quarts to 2 quarts and added a can of diced tomatoes. Instead of canned beans, I refreshed some dry. Instead of canned or leftover roasted chicken (amount or type of chicken was not specified in Chef Suzie’s recipe), I marinated and grilled chicken breasts and added them to the pot. The original recipe called for just adding the spices after the addition of the liquid ingredients, but I’ve found that allowing the spices to toast a bit before the liquid addition helps to bring out the flavor a little more. A bit different but still yummy!

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