White chili is one of those Tex-Mex hybrids that you won’t find in Mexico, or even very often in Texas. It seems to be a Northern adaptation of traditional chili, with white beans and chicken as its base. It’s good with pheasant or any other white meat.
White chili is basically the same as regular chili except that it’s made with white beans, no tomato, and green chiles instead of red. It’s a great change of pace, especially in spring.
You can make your white chili in one of two ways: you can use a whole pheasant, simmer it gently to make a pheasant broth, pick off all the meat, and then use the broth and the meat in the chili; or you can do this the quick and easy way by using premade broth and whatever pheasant you have lying around. I’ll go through each option in the recipe below.
The secret of my version of this chili are smoked, preserved chiles, which are insanely good. Use roasted Hatch chiles or jalapenos (canned or freshly roasted) if you don’t have any.
Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail
by Hank Shaw
If you are making the broth yourself, put the pheasant in the water and bring it to a boil over high heat. As soon as it boils, drop the heat to a simmer and skim any scum that floats to the top. Add the herbs and spices, and simmer for 30 minutes. Pull out the pheasant and pick off all the breast meat. Return the pheasant to the broth and simmer gently another hour or two. Take the pheasant out again and pick off all the rest of the meat from the bird. Reserve all this meat for the chili. Strain the broth and reserve it.
To make the chili, heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions and poblano chiles until they just barely begin to brown on the edges, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another minute.
Pour in 1 quart of chicken stock or the broth you just made. Add the beans, hominy (if using), and the spices. Bring to a simmer. You want a dense stew, not a soup, so you might not need all the broth you made; use it for something else (it’ll keep for a week in the fridge).
Add the reserved pheasant meat—or coarsely chopped pheasant meat if you didn’t make your own broth—and the green chiles. Add salt to taste. Simmer this just until the poblano chiles are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Finish the chili with fresh cilantro and lime juice and maybe a little green hot sauce if you like.
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Recipe reprinted with permission from Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail by Hank Shaw. Copyright 2018 H&H Books.