By Sara Moulton
The first time I ate white chicken chili, it was wrapped in a burrito. And I fell instantly in love.
I'd always been a fan of tomato-based red chili, but the white version — flavored with green chili peppers and thickened with sour cream — struck me as cleaner. And I didn't miss the sometimes cloying sweetness that tomatoes bring to red chili.
So here is my lightened-up version of white chicken chili. It can be eaten straight up by the bowl, over rice (preferably brown), or spooned into a whole-wheat tortilla. To make this dish creamy without any cream, I thickened it by mashing up some of the white beans. Combined with a tiny bit of reduced-fat sour cream, the mashed beans provide this impeccably slimmed-down chili with an unexpectedly luxurious texture.
Good flavor and thickening ability aside, white beans also happen to be a powerhouse of good nutrition. They're a terrific source of fiber — which means this chili will fill you up — and a very good source of folate and manganese.
The list of ingredients in this recipe is longish, but good chili requires a fair amount of flavors. And please don't forget the garnishes. They require extra work, but they add so many layers of flavor and texture to the finished bowl of chili.
WHITE CHICKEN CHILI WITH LIME
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 red bell pepper, cored and chopped
1 pound ground chicken or turkey
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 ½ tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ cup white wine (optional)
1 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth (use 2 cups if not using the wine)
2 (15 ½-ounce) cans white beans, drained and rinsed
1 (4 ½-ounce) can chopped green chiles (use less if you prefer a very mild chili)
½ cup reduced-fat sour cream
Salt and ground black pepper
Chopped fresh cilantro
Grated low-fat Monterey Jack cheese
In a large nonstick or stick-resistant skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the onion and red pepper, then cook for 5 minutes, or until the onion is softened. Add the chicken and cook, breaking up any large pieces, until the chicken is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic, chili powder, flour, cumin and oregano and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the white wine, if using, and the broth in a stream, whisking. Bring the mixture to boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, use a fork to mash 1 cup of the beans. Add both the whole and mashed beans and the chiles to the chili and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the sour cream and cook until hot. Season with salt and pepper.
Ladle the chili into bowls and accompany at the table with scallions, cilantro, cheese and lime wedges.
Nutritional information per serving: 410 calories (120 calories from fat, 29 percent of total calories), 13g fat (4.5g saturated, 0g trans fats), 75mg cholesterol, 41g carbohydrates, 9g fiber, 3g sugar, 29g protein, 430mg sodium.