Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Timothy's: The best White Chili this side of heaven

"Timothy’s is long gone now, even the building it occupied demolished, but in its day, the East Broadway restaurant had panache and a loyal following for its back room upscale menu as well as its bar menu. The latter featured meatloaf sandwiches and what became the restaurant’s signature dish, white chili. We have many variations from other restaurants in the archives, but this is the one people most often request" (Courier-Journal recipes, Louisville, Kentucky, November 11, 2009).

When I first moved to Louisville, I found this little restaurant named Timothy's. I was looking for a place close by where I could go with a friend or by myself and have a great salad or steaming bowl of comforting soup. Louisville is a big restaurant town with wonderful local places serving interesting and delicious local food. We have a culinary arts school here that's third in the nation and tums out chefs and future restauranteurs who become very competitive. Many remain in Louisville and work as chefs or go into business for themselves. The city really benefits by all the competition as they try to make their restaurants the best in town.

Timothy's is no longer there...sitting by itself on the corner of Broadway and Court St. Painted grey with black and white awnings. it was a wonderfully eccentric eatery, opened by Tim Barnes in the early 1980s. They served continental style food and frequently displayed a "now sauteing" neon sign in the front window. Most Louisvillians will remember it and, although I wasn't introduced to it until I moved here almost 16 years ago, I still remember going there with friends to savor some of their awesome "White Chili".

The original Timothy's had a front room with booth seating and a bar, and a more formal if idiosyncratically decorated back room. The menu in the front room focused on comfort foods, such as meatloaf sandwiches, with a more upscale menu in the back. ..."The white chili was devised by Timothy's original chef as a trendy variation on a familiar, comforting dish. Its trendiness may have intrigued diners to try it, but its satisfying richness, with just a hint of spicy heat, has kept it popular through the years" (Bon Appetit, 1991).

In March of 1991, Bon Appetit did an article on Timothy's and published the White Chili recipe. I was ecstatic when I found it and have been making it ever since. When Tim died in the late 1990s, the restaurant closed and reopened in Indiana in 2003. They still have his chili.

Last year, I spent the Christmas holidays in the southwest visiting my daughter and her live-in love. They have a great house with 4 cats in Austin Texas. I had a wonderful week of Christmas, zoning out on food, wine, and card playing. We all three love to cook, so instead of going out to eat, we spent every night cooking for each other. I cooked two nights and guess what I made for them...and their friends? Yep! White Chile. And they all loved it! So I've decided to share the recipe with you ..........just go easy of the hot stuff. My mouth is still smarting!

Timothy's White Chili
(Yield: 6 servings)


2-3 8 oz. cans Great Northern Beans

2 LB chicken breasts

1 ½ tsp. oregano

1TBL Olive oil

¼tsp grnd cloves

2 med Onions, chopped

¼ tsp Cayenne

4 Garlic cloves, minced

6 C. Chicken stock or broth

8 oz. Chopped mild green chilies

2tsp. Grnd cumin

3 C. Monterey Jack; grated

1/2 C. Sherry

Garnishes: Salsa, Chopped fresh cilantro, Sour Cream


Saute chicken in heavy large saucepan. until just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, cool, remove skin, & cut into cubes. Heat oil in same pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute until translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic, then chilies, cumin, oregano, cloves, and cayenne pepper and saute 2 minutes. Add beans and stock and bring to boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 1/2 hour. Add chicken and 1 cup cheese to chili and stir until cheese melts. Continue to simmer for another 1/2 hour. Add sherry 5 minutes before finished cooking. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle chili into bowls. Serve with remaining cheese, sour cream, salsa and cilantro. (recipe edited by Aleksander House Bed and Breakfast)

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