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White Chicken Chili: A March Madness Recipe

March MadnessI wouldn’t call myself a sports fan. I like to think of myself as athletic (I run, spin, and do yoga), but I’d much rather do just about anything else than watch sports on TV. (A live sporting event is another matter, that I enjoy a great deal).

Growing up, the only sport I was really exposed to was my Grandpa listening to Yankees baseball on the radio. In high school, I cheered for a little while, but I was definitely more interested in the cheerleading than the team we were supposed to be cheering for. (Except when the boy I had a tremendous crush on was playing basketball).

After high school, I attended a theater conservatory, so there were no sports teams to follow there. Even living in a great sports town like New York—I was happy when the Rangers did well, or the Yankees went to the World Series, but I didn’t clear my calendar to make sure I saw them do it.

My husband, however, is another matter. He loves sports. He played hockey in college and actually gets sad if the Rangers don’t make it to the playoffs. He pays attention to the Yankees’ trades and drafts. He watched Curling with real interest more than once during the Olympics.

When we first started dating, he asked me if I was interested in doing a bracket for March Madness. I was sort of cursorily aware that there was some big college basketball tournament that happened in the springtime, but that was about it.

My picks that year went like this—if I knew someone who had gone to a particular school playing in the tournament, I picked that school. If I didn’t know anyone from either of the schools playing, I picked the one that sounded like one I thought I’d would have liked to have gone to go to. My excitement that year was based solely on how much money I could win. (Which, it turned out, was none).

We’ve continued to watch, and each year, my interest in the tournament has grown (except for last year when I was having a baby during it). The games are short—two, twenty minute halves rather than four, twelve minute quarters in NBA games (and lightening fast compared to football!).

I like that I don’t have to make a huge time commitment to enjoy a game. Also, these are college kids and they have tons of heart. Sure, some of the guys are playing for the scouts, but most of them know that this is the last big game they will ever play—both scenarios translate to the spectators and make the games very exciting. It was like back-in-the-day when only amateurs competed in the Olympics—much more exciting, in my opinion, because there was more on the line.

Even if the sport in question didn’t hold my interest, food does. And really, what is a sporting event without food? A baseball game without hot dogs? The Super Bowl without nachos? So, here is my March Madness recipe for White Chicken Chili.

It really doesn’t have anything at all to do with basketball, but March can be chilly (get it?) and this is an easy dish to throw in the slow-cooker and enjoy between games (or even on a weeknight!). I make it fairly mild (jalapenos for garnish only) and even my four year old loves it. Just make sure to unplug that slow-cooker before you go to bed!

White Chicken Chili:

1 lb Chicken Breasts
2×15 oz Cans Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
4 oz can Chopped Green Chilis
½ Onion, chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Cumin
1 teaspoon Salt
¼ teaspoon Peper
Pinch of Dried Oregano
2 cups Chicken Broth
Juice of one lime
¼ cup Milk
1 tablespoon of Flour or Cornstarch

Method:

Combine all ingredients except for the flour/cornstarch and milk into a slow-cooker. Stir to combine and cook on Low for 4 hours. Remove the chicken and shred it (or use cubes like I sometimes do, the shredding is a drag). Whisk the milk and flour/cornstarch and add to the pot. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes. Return the chicken to the pot and stir to combine. Serve over brown rice with fresh cilantro, sour cream, black olives and jalapenos.

My brackets haven’t gotten any more scientific, and I’ve never won a dime from these games, but the fun I get from watching these kids play, along with some bonding time with my husband is all the payout I need. 

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