I'm pretty lucky in that cold doesn't bother me all that much. Blame it on living 3/4 of my life in Vermont and Minnesota, where winters are long and harsh and a fact of life. To me, falling temperatures mean getting out the scarves, gloves, boots and coats, putting snow tires on my car, and sharpening my ice skates. It's just something that happens, and to be honest, I kind of like it really cold. (The word is still out whether extreme cold causes brain damage.)
The winters in Utah are fairly mild, so a lot of people don't have the same, "here we go again" attitude about winter that I do. Instead, every time it gets cold it's almost like it's personally offensive. The conversations on the bus revolve around disgust that it's actually snowing and that the temperature dared to drop to 40. Doesn't the snow know that it should stay in the mountains and leave us alone?
Whenever I hear conversations like this, I think of some advice I was given when I first moved to Minnesota. A wise and seasoned graduate student was talking to my group of wide-eyed newbies and warned us about how long the winters are. "You have to have something you love about the winter here." he said, "Find something that you can do in the winter that you will really enjoy or you will go crazy wishing for warmer weather." It was really good advice, because if everything you like to do requires sun and green grass, you're only going to be happy a couple months of the year. Taking up skiing or skating or even going sledding every once in a while really helps make winter something enjoyable rather than dreadful.
Along those lines, there are certain foods that I only make when the weather turns cold. Reserving them as "winter only" meals makes cold, dark nights something to look forward to. Chili is definitely one of those foods for me, and this chicken chili is a new favorite dish this year. I've proclaimed my love for the slow cooker before so I don't need to tell you how amazing it is to come home to a delicious, hot meal on a cold night. Or how wonderfully tender and delicious the chicken in this recipe gets after slow cooking with the rest of the chili and spices. While it isn't a "throw everything in the pot and forget about it" recipe because it requires some cooking of the onions, spices and jalapenos before going into the slow cooker, it is still fast to put together and the taste is definitely worth the few minutes of extra time to brown the veggies. The finished chili is thick and full of chicken, beans and flavor, and perfect to warm you from the inside out, no matter what the weather is doing outside.
Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili
3 cupslow sodium chicken broth
1can (15 oz) white or yellow hominy, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoonsvegetable oil
4jalapeno chilies, stemmed, seeded and minced
6garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoonsground cumin
2 teaspoonsground coriander
3(15 oz) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3 poundsbone-in chicken thighs, skin removed and trimmed (chicken leg quarters also work)
Puree 2 cups of broth and hominy in blender until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to slow cooker.
Heat oil in 12 inch skillet over medium high heat until shimmering. Add onions, jalapenos, garlic, cumin and coriander and cook until vegetables are softened and lightly browned, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in remaining 1 cup broth, scraping up any browned bits; transfer to slow cooker.
Stir beans into slow cooker. Season chicken with salt and pepper and nestle into slow cooker. Cover and cook until chicken is tender, about 4-6 hours on low.
Transfer chicken to cutting board. Let cool slightly, then shred into bite-zied pieces, discarding bones. Let chili settle for five minutes, then remove fat from the surface with a large spoon.
Stir in shredded chicken and pickled jalapenos and let sit until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with avocado pieces.