Kitty Purgason’s White Chicken Chili

Kitty Purgason's Chili

I met this chili, and Kitty Purgason, at the Pasadena Covenant Church meal contest last fall.  This church provides shelter and meals to homeless folks on cold, wet winter nights..  Roughly 12 members of the congregation volunteered to whip up their favorite home-cooked recipes, provide a “taste off,” and use a vote to choose the upcoming menu.

People, this is my kind of church experience–it’s got “Midwest” written all over it.

My Michigander transplant girlfriend, Lisa, is a Covenant Church member and she lets me tag along when I’m in the mood.  As a native Minnesotan raised in a Methodist home and church, from the first time I popped my eclectically-spiritual face onto the Covenant scene I felt right at home.   Throw in a pot-luck taste test with a recipe made by the you-can’t-get-more-Midwestern-than-this: Kitty Purgason… Girlfriend, that is a taste of Michelle’s heaven.

The Midwestern United States isn’t exactly known for its gourmet approach to food.  Common references to “casseroles” and questions regarding the usage of cream of mushroom soup have arisen.  And while, yes, casseroles (actually, the correct term is “hot-dish,”) and cream of mushroom soup are something with which we Mid-westerners are familiar, we offer much more to the culinary world.

The Midwestern philosophy to cooking is actually quite a hat-tip to the modern mama.  Savory.  Efficient.  Satisfying.  Wholesome.  These are words that, when used to describe dinner, are often met with smiles.  I said SMILES.  Who couldn’t use more of those at the table?

I love Kitty Purgason’s White Chicken Chili for three reasons.  First of all, it’s easy-tasty-healthy. Second, the ingredients can be kept on hand (most in the pantry) for easy whip-up’ed-ness. Also, you can totally fudge the quantities on pretty much everything (just throw in extra this if you are missing a can of that) and still present a delicious meal for your family.  Now you can smile too!

Finally, the name Kitty Purgason makes my heart smile.  Back in Rochester, Minnesota I had a classmate named Kitty who, in the third grade, helped me with fractions and taught me how to draw trees that didn’t resemble lollipops.  My childhood friend, Kitty, was friendly and generous, much like the Covenant-Church-Kitty I recently met.

Besides “Calva,” my elementary classroom rosters had a list of surnames including Torgrimson, Olson and Thompson.  So, when kind hand of someone named Kitty Purgason was extended to me over my chili sample that fall day, I just knew this recipe would join my life and table.

Now it can join yours too.

Kitty Purgason’s White Chicken Chili

Chili Ingredients: 1 chopped onion, 2 crushed garlic cloves, couple three cans chicken broth (0r approximate equivalent), leftover diced cooked chicken, 1 can drained white or pinto beans, 1 can corn (drain but save liquid in case you need it), 1 can chopped tomatoes with liquid, 1 (or 2) small can mild green chilis, optional: chopped fresh tomatillos if available.  See toppings ingredients below…

Definitely serve with: fresh lime, tortilla chip crumbles Optionally serve with (unless you’re at my house, then this is definite too!): sour cream, fresh chopped cilantro, diced green onion, hot sauce

Directions: Saute onion and garlic with a few splashes of olive oil.  Add everything else and bring to a simmer.  Um… you’re done and it likely took all of 12 minutes.

Notes: This is a very mild chili, which works great for my kids.  We all love the lime and chips on top and I put the rest of the accoutrements on the table and we sprinkle as desired.  Mike and I add hot sauce, but of course…  Doctoring your bowl of yum up with all the fixin’s is really half the fun.  Also, even though I live a stone’s throw from a Latino super market and could get tomatillos in a second, I have never gone to the trouble when making this recipe and and it still tastes stellar.

Final Note (still with me?): Feel free to use fresh corn, fresh tomatoes, etc… if you have them on hand, of course.  But isn’t it nice to know you don’t have to?

Advertisements

Patience is a Virtue

AKA: why Michelle’ will never create something like you see here.

cookie
(AKA: Ndidiamaka don’t even challenge me, girlfriend!)

Homemade cookies.  Who doesn’t like’m?  And I wouldn’t mind making them either, if only there wasn’t all that measuring and accuracy involved.  And then all that scooping and same-size-making-strategically-placing-to bake evenly type situation going on.  Man does that get in the way of my happy kitchen vibe.

Lucky for me I’m from Minnesota.  I’ve decided that I must not be the only woman from my neck of the woods who has an aversion to the precision involved in good baking.

In the Midwest we make cookie bars, or just “bars” as they’re referred to at potluck gatherings and bake sales.

The premise is basically as follows: take the cookie dough and heave it onto a cookie sheet with an edge.

heave

Press it out till it’s evenly spread.

spread

How deep?  How should I know!?  The whole point here is that we’re cutting corners, thus, I shall not be bothered with details.  (OK though, If I had to give a number I’d say about a 1/2 inch or so–but don’t tell anyone I said that.)

There are actual recipes designed for baking bars (aka: I’m not making this up), but it is possible to wing it.  If your baking time is calculated for cookies, I would add about 50% onto the total and check what you’ve got.  So, if you’re taking a chocolate chip cookie recipe that bakes for 8-10 minutes and morphing it into a chocolate chip cookie bar recipe, you should set your timer for about 14-15 minutes and check.  Depending on how deep you’ve made your bars or what recipe you’re using, it could take up to double the baking time.

Don’t worry though.  The first time you make bars this way, you may have to check back once or twice.  But then you can just make a note of the new “bar” time and you’re set for the next time ’round.

Mix.  Heave-spread-press.  Bake.  Done.

I make cookie bars for my family’s lunches.  Everyone likes a little something sweet after lunch, and this way I control the portions and know exactly what’s in there.  No hydrogenated or multisylabic ingredients that can technically be consumed but are not, necessarily, food.  And of course there’s the added bonus that mommy doesn’t get all irritated while making them.  Yeah team!

I can cut these little honeys into 2 or so inch squares and freeze them for a couple of weeks of post-lunch treats.

Patience may be a virtue, but cutting corners is where it’s at.