Are you a Big Bang Theory fan? If you are, you’ll get this post more than others. Recently, James’s best friend from high school, the fellow that introduced us to each other all those years ago, came for a visit. Mark brought with him his new bride, the lovely Heather, or as she’s affectionately known, Penny.
They celebrated their honeymoon throughout Canada and the NYC area, somewhat just to come hang out with us! On their honeymoon! That’s love, people. And family. Welcome to our family, Penny. We’re so glad to have you.
We did all the requisite NYC sight seeing and endless eating you can imagine, but one request gave James and me a pause and a chuckle. They insisted we go to a Cheesecake Factory at some point during their trip. They didn’t care when, or which location, we just had to go.
The reason behind their fascination with this ginormous chain is completely to do with the television show The Big Bang Theory, where the group of friends on the show tends to eat at least once a week, and where the main female lead works.
We’ve been back several times to eat the chili so I could analyze it for recreation at home. At least, that’s the excuse James and I kept telling ourselves!
It’s a chili that is definitely full of flavor, and comes together quickly. But like most chilis, the longer you let it sit, the better it will taste. So make it a day ahead of time, or make a double batch so you have leftovers all week. It’s also great for going straight in the freezer.
What makes this chili so delicious? I like to think it’s a combination of all those fabulous spices: cumin, chili powder, garlic and onion, with the background notes of navy beans and juicy chicken.
We added red kidney beans to ours simply because I felt it needed a second can of beans, and we didn’t have more navy beans on hand. Feel free to switch out the red kidney beans for more navy beans if it strikes your fancy. I also added white shoepeg corn because I love corn in chili. Feel free to omit it if that’s not your thing.
As Sheldon says, Bazinga! There’s your dinner.
Cheesecake Factory White Chicken Chili
Serves 4 to 6
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 chicken breasts or 4 chicken thighs
1/2 large sweet onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
salt and pepper to season
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 7 oz can Salsa Verde
1 15.5 oz can of Navy beans
1 15.5 oz can of Red Kidney beans
11 oz can of White Shoepeg corn
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup half and half
16 fl. oz organic chicken broth
2 tablespoons sour cream
Chopped green onions to top
Cheddar cheese to top
Dice the chicken into 1″ cubes. Chop the onion and red bell pepper into small pieces. Mix the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder and onion powder together in a small bowl.
In a large French oven or soup pot, heat the vegetable oil on medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add chicken to the pot and stir immediately so it won’t stick. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Allow the chicken to brown.
When there are nice caramelization marks on the chicken pieces, add the spice mix to the chicken and stir to distribute. When the chicken is cooked through, remove to a bowl and set aside.
There should still be some oil and chicken juices in the pan, but if not, add another tablespoon of oil if needed. Add onion and bell pepper to the pan and allow to sweat down to a medium brown on the onions, when they’re translucent and beginning to caramelize as well. The red pepper should also have a little browning on it.
Add the chicken back to the pan, then add the flour and stir to evenly coat all the ingredients. Add the Salsa Verde, beans, and corn to the pot. Stir.
Add the half and half and organic chicken broth to the pan and stir. Add sour cream. Lower the heat to a low medium and stir the chili. As the chili heats through, it should begin to thicken. If the chili doesn’t thicken as much as you would like, make a cornstarch slurry to thicken further.
Serve with chopped green onions, more sour cream and cheddar cheese for topping. Fabulous served over white or brown rice, the way the Cheesecake Factory serves it. It would also go really well with maple corn bread.