Dinner:  October 6, 2007

This has been a busy weekend for us food-wise, as it led into what we fondly refer to as Dietschtoberfest – our annual celebration of my husband’s birthday. Last year’s celebration was a bit low-key, as our our best little kitchen helper was in the hospital, so this year we wanted to extend the celebration a bit, and in that regard, I made plans to cook up a variety of Mike’s favorite dishes throughout the course of his birthday week.

We kicked things off on Friday with a glass of champagne before dinner, some baguette and brie and (yes, another) roast chicken with potatoes. Mike warned me he felt a cold coming on, and unfortunately when he woke on Saturday it was full-blown. Also unfortunate is the fact that he had to work on Saturday, so as he headed into the city fortified with cold medicine, I got to work on another batch of chicken stock.

chili spices

Despite the hot weather we’ve been having, I had been craving chili, and I thought a lighter version, made with some of our rich stock and lots of chiles and spices might do Mike some good. We were out of his homemade chile powder, but I improvised with a combination of things we had in the pantry and came up with a blend that had a nice kick. We were both sweating as we finished our bowls, but it must have done my sweetie some good, since he said he was feeling much better the next day. I’m a firm believer that chicken soup of any kind is good for what ails you, and while this isn’t technically a soup, it seemed to do the trick.

White Chili

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb. savory chicken sausage (you can substitute ground chicken, ground turkey or turkey sausage)
1 red onion, diced
Kosher salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons chipotle powder
1/2 teaspoon piquin chile powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 chipotle chile, canned in adobo
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 cups chicken stock or broth
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 can small white beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups shredded cooked chicken (white or dark or a combination of the two)
juice of one lime

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot. Remove the chicken sausage from its casings and add to pot, breaking up with a spoon. Brown the sausage, then add onion and season with salt. Allow the onion to cook over medium heat until softened. Add the spices and stir through. Push the sausage and onion mixture aside and add the tomato paste, allowing it to caramelize a few minutes before stirring through. Add the stock, beans, shredded chicken and lime juice, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer – after about 30 minutes or so it will be ready to eat, but you can let it go longer if you like. Serve in big bowls with warmed tortillas and your favorite garnishes – a little grated cheese, diced onion or scallion, or sour cream are all nice additions.

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