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Upland Chili with a Spicy Cilantro Drizzle

Upland Chili with a Spicy Cilantro Drizzle

Upland chili rests on a table.

Spice up your cold nights with this white chili that utilizes tougher upland bird cuts

Cooler fall weather demands chili. It’s the unwritten rule in every household, I believe.

For us upland bird hunters, white chili is a great option to accommodate the protein packing our freezers. It amps up that wild bird flavor without burying it in tangy tomatoes or heaps of cumin and red chili powder.

This is an adaption from a recipe my mother-in-law has made for our family many times and is, indeed, a household favorite. The benefit here is you can indeed use tougher cuts, such as thighs or legs, from any birds. I recommend deboning the meat, but if you feel comfortable simmering a whole thigh, bone-in, then removing bone after meat falls off, those bones will actually add flavor.

In terms of spices, while I rarely reach for anything much past salt and pepper from the spice rack, I am a big fan of Montana Mex’s Mild Chile Seasoning. I would go so far as say it is artfully crafted, versus your standard run of Mexican seasonings. No, they aren’t paying me to say any of that. It’s not too spicy but adds a smoky depth of chili flavor to upland bird meat.

But is the drizzle spicy since it uses a pound of jalapeños? Admittedly, jalapeños can vary in spice level, but I have found roasting them lowers the heat overall. Blended with cilantro and lime juice, the spice gets knocked down a notch. However, it never hurts to recommend that your guests try a dab on their fingers before taking the squeeze bottle and pouring it on.

Upland chili rests on a table.

Upland Chili with Spicy Cilantro Drizzle

Jack Hennessy
Spice up your cold nights with this white chili that utilizes tougher upland bid cuts like thighs and legs.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 2 hrs
Cook Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 4 people
Calories 928 kcal


  • 1 lb upland meat, diced into small cubes
  • 32 oz pheasant or chicken stock (possibly more if using leg or thigh meat)
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 2 large cloves of fresh garlic finely minced
  • 1 4-oz can of diced green chili peppers
  • 1 15.8-oz can of great northern or cannellini beans rinsed
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • olive oil
  • Montana Mex Mild Chile Seasoning
  • kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Spicy Cilantro Drizzle

  • 1 lb jalapeños (approximately 12 normal-sized peppers) roasted
  • 2 bunches cilantro (just leaves mostly, not stems)
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil


  • Blue corn tortilla chips
  • Green onions thinly sliced


  • Debone upland meat and diced into small cubes. Dust liberally with chili seasoning and place back in fridge for 1-2 hours prior to cooking.
  • When ready to cook, heat a large pot or cast-iron Dutch oven on medium-high and add a thin layer of olive oil. Add diced onion and dust with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  • Once onions are seared, add diced upland bird meat and stir around until meat is also seared. Add 2 large cloves of freshly minced garlic and stir for a couple more minutes.
  • Add stock and can of diced green chili peppers. Reduce to a simmer. If using thigh or leg meat, hold off adding beans until the pot has simmered for 1 1/2 hours, as thigh and leg meat takes longer to tenderize. If using only breast meat, add beans immediately.
  • Allow for 30 minutes of simmering normally if only using breast meat (or 2 hours for thigh and leg meat, adding beans in final half-hour). If cooking thigh and leg meat, you may need to add more chicken stock as it reduces over time.
  • While chili simmers, make the drizzle. Roast jalapeños for 25 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove stems and add to food processor along with cilantro leaves, the juice from 1 lime, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 2 tablespoons brown sugar. Blend thoroughly, then slowly add 1/2 cup olive oil while continuing to blend. Add sauce to a squeeze bottle by using funnel, and set aside until ready to serve.
  • After pot contents have simmered, add heavy whipping cream. Bring to a heavy simmer and allow to reduce for 15 minutes.
  • After cream has reduced some and thickened, add sour cream and serve. Top with blue corn tortilla chips and thinly sliced green onions. Drizzle over spicy cilantro mix. Enjoy!


Calories: 928kcalCarbohydrates: 29gProtein: 31gFat: 78gSaturated Fat: 28gPolyunsaturated Fat: 8gMonounsaturated Fat: 37gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 196mgSodium: 762mgPotassium: 932mgFiber: 4gSugar: 17gVitamin A: 2811IUVitamin C: 146mgCalcium: 142mgIron: 2mg
Keyword chili
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