This article appears in the September 2018 issue of 400 Life magazine.
One of my earliest memories is of sitting in the kitchen of my childhood home on a dreary fall day, looking out at the rain while my parents cooked chili and cornbread for my siblings and I. I remember the smell of cooking beef, onions and garlic, and the taste of the piping hot cornbread slathered with butter and honey straight from my mother’s old cast iron.
Even today, on a cold and rainy day, I still think about that memory and how cozy it was.
For this edition of 400 Eats, I chose to bring you a slightly modified version of the classic chili and cornbread meal — with a Latin influenced White Chicken Chili with jalapeno cornbread on the side. This meal is definitely a different taste than classic chili, but I think what makes it great is the mix of creamy, savory flavors and zesty spices.
For this meal you will need a slow cooker, an oven and some sort of baking dishes for chicken and corn bread. For cooking the chicken, I suggest a baking sheet, and for cornbread I strongly suggest a cast iron skillet or muffin tin.
• Chicken breasts - 1 pound (two breasts)
• Yellow onion - 1 whole
• Garlic - 2 cloves
• Chicken broth - 32 ounces
• Great Northern beans - two 15 ounce cans
• Green chiles - Two 4 ounce cans
• Corn - One 15 ounce can
• Salt - 1 tsp
• Black pepper - 1/2 tsp
• Cumin - 1 tsp
• Oregano - 3/4 tsp
• Chili powder - 1/2 tsp
• Cayenne pepper - 1/4 tsp
• Fresh cilantro - 1 cup
• Cream cheese - 2 ounces
• Half and half - 1/4 cup
• Jiffy corn muffin mix - two boxes (For stupid cheap, easy, no-fuss cornbread Jiffy can’t be beaten)
• Eggs - 2 whole
• Milk - 2/3 cup
• Fresh Jalapeno - to taste
1.Your chicken will make or break the chili, so the first step is to prepare and cook your chicken. Take both chicken breasts, wash and dry them thoroughly and rub them down with 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper and 3/4 tsp oregano.
2. Bake chicken breasts at 400 degrees, for 20 minutes or until each is cooked thoroughly. Let the breasts cool completely and then pull each into strips.
3. Add pulled chicken to the slow cooker, add salt, pepper, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper and 3/4 tsp oregano.
4. Stir in your diced onion, corn, garlic, Great Northern beans, chiles and chicken broth.
5. Cover the slow cooker and cook it on high for 3.5 hours. The spices of this meal are definitely something you can take some liberties with. My advice is to let your chili cook for three hours and then start tinkering with the different ratios. But be careful with cayenne, it is easy to overdo it (If that does happen, you can always add in a touch more half and half in the next step to cool things down.)
6. When the chili is just about done, 30 minutes to go, combine the cornbread ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk until the mixture is thoroughly wet. Mince the fresh jalapeno and stir into the batter. Like the spices, you can adjust the jalapeno for taste.
7. When the chili is done cooking, stir in the cream cheese and half and half, cover and continue cooking until the chili reaches your desired thickness.