Wednesday, February 7, 2007

"Paula Deen's Kitchen Classics" - Paula Deen's White Bean Chili

Date I made this recipe: February 4, 2007

Paula Deen’s Kitchen Classics – The Lady & Sons Savannah Country Cookbook and The Lady & Sons, Too! by Paula Deen
Published by Random House (as seen on The Food Network)
ISBN: 1-4000-6455-4

Recipe: White Bean Chili – p. 29

Once upon a time, you couldn’t dynamite me out of bed before noon on a Saturday morning. And then along came The Food Network and Paula Deen, and before you knew it, I had my butt in my easy chair at 9:30 a.m. sharp to catch her show, Paula's Home Cooking.

For those who don’t know, Paula Deen is the new queen of southern cooking. After she got divorced, she started a catering business called The Bag Lady and before you knew it, she had herself a restaurant called The Lady & Sons. And then one day, a book publisher came her way and pretty soon the Food Network called and soon she had her own show (now two shows) and life was looking pretty darned great.

The thing I love about Paula, besides her rags to riches success story is her love of “real” ingredients and by that I mean butter, more butter, some more butter and maybe some sour cream…or cream cheese. I like a woman who accepts no substitutes.

Prior to making her white bean chili, I tried making Paula’s corn bread dressing recipes a couple of times at Thanksgiving (the recipe is in the book but I got it off the internet years ago) and I must say that while Paula doesn’t accept substitutes, I had to. Her dressing is really soupy and so I played around with the number of eggs and cups of broth that she calls for in order to get a firmer dressing. (If you go on the Food Network’s website and look up this recipe, you’ll find I was not alone in my kitchen substitutions but that’s what makes it fun). I also substituted low sodium chicken broth because the first time I made it, I felt like I was eating a salt lick (but that’s just me). I feel I’m this close to nailing the thing next November.

Happily, I didn’t have to substitute anything in this chili recipe although I did use low sodium broth because I am just not a big fan of salt. I also cut the recipe in half since I didn’t feel we needed 10 to 15 servings of this. What we ended up with was just right.

White Bean Chili – serves 10 to 15
1 pound dried navy beans
6 cups chicken stock
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¾ cup diced onion
1 ½ green chilies (fresh or canned), chopped (NOTE: I bought a can of already diced chilies and that seemed to work out fine).
1 pound skinless boneless chicken breast, finely chopped
1 ½ tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 to 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
¾ teaspoon white pepper
½ bunch cilantro, chopped

Wash beans, cover with water, and soak for 2 hours. Drain. Place beans in large pot with chicken stock. Bring to a boil. In a saucepan, heat butter and sauté garlic, onion, and chilies for 5 minutes. Add to bean pot. Add chicken, cumin, oregano, black pepper, white pepper and cilantro. Lower heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 1 ½ hours. Serve with corn bread.

NOTE #1: Despite making a half recipe, I ended up adding almost all the broth called for in the whole recipe. I had the burner on medium (and even low) but the liquid boiled off very quickly and we can’t have that! If you make a half recipe, keep an eye on the liquid as you go along.

NOTE #2: Talk about timely. The latest episode I watched of Paula’s show was about (football) game food and don’t you know the Super Bowl was Sunday, February 4th. I thought White Bean Chili was just the ticket (no pun intended) for game day and it didn’t disappoint.

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