Recipes & Cooking  |  12/21/2017

Recipe: Pheasant White Chili


By Hank Shaw

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 for any time of year.

You can make white chili in one of two ways: 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 go quick-and-easy by using premade broth and whatever pheasant you have lying around. Each option is covered in the recipe below.


Serves 4


1 pheasant; 2 turkey legs; 4 partridges or 6 quail; 2 rabbits or 4 squirrels
10 cups water
2 bay leaves
6 to 10 cracked black peppercorns
1 teaspoon dried thyme, or a fresh thyme sprig
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, or a fresh sprig (optional)
6 to 10 crushed juniper berries (optional)

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 poblano or green peppers, diced
One 28- to 30-ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed
One 28- to 30-ounce can white hominy corn, drained and rinsed (optional)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 small can of green Hatch chiles or jalapenos Chopped cilantro and limes to garnish


If you are making broth, submerge the pheasant in the water and bring it to a boil. 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. Remove the pheasant and pull off the breast meat. Return the rest 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 the 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 the broth you just made, or chicken broth. 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.

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, avocados, and lime juice and maybe a little green hot sauce if you like. 

This recipe is gleaned from Hank Shaw's newest book, Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail: Upland Birds and Small Game from Field to Feast. Pre-order your copy here, and see Hank on the Wild Game Stage at National Pheasant Fest & Quail Classic in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, February 16 - 18, 2017.