White Chili

Hot chili in the summertime? Why not? Especially on those occasional dreary, rainy days....or on a Michigan camping adventure when you are bound to hit a cold spell in the Great White North. This chili can be made in advance and frozen....to be brought out on one of those unexpected days when the campfires are ablaze.

We call it White Chili because we use Michigan's navy beans and chicken instead of red kidney beans and beef. The end result is that it tastes like chili and it's actually healthier for you. Beans are a satisfying food that make you feel fuller longer. It has what they call "staying power". They are low in calories, loaded with fiber, rich in protein, carbohydrates and they are totally free of cholesterol. Michigan is the number one producer of beans in the United States and we need to take advantage of the crops all around us! The white neavy bean is actually a variety of the red kidney bean. Kidney beans of all varieties have much greater food value than most other kinds of vegetables. For 6-8 hungry he-men, you'll need:

1 ea.                stewing chicken
1 gallon             water
1 cup                diced onions
1 cup                diced celery
2 lbs                white navy beans
2 TB                 cumin
1 tsp                cayenne pepper
1 TB                 thyme
1 TB                 chopped garlic
2 TB                 chicken base or 3 bouillon cubes

Soaking the beans and changing the water frequently will reduce the obnoxious odors that are often associated with beans! So when making your chili, start by soaking the beans the night before.

Cook your bird in a large pot of water. Let cool. Remove skins and bones and chop chicken into bite size pieces. Reserve your chicken stock, but drain off the grease that has risen to the top. Return the stock to the stove and add the rest of the ingredients. Let simmer two hours or until the beans are very tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Now add the cooked chicken. By adding it last, the chicken remains tender and moist.

When serving, top with some monterrey jack cheese and a little roasted red pepper (for color!) and a hunk of cheese bread. No longer considered a "poor man's meat", beans give you a lot of bang for the buck--and I don't mean the tooting kind. And as always, a creative cook is a good cook.