I’ll admit it, I’m a little bit of a dictator in the kitchen. If I let Jonathan help me (and that’s a big IF), I’m hovering over him, peering over his shoulders and cringing with every shop of the blade. “I’m sorry, but that’s just not the way I wanted the carrots cut for this recipe!” and then we’re at each other’s throats and one of us is crying inside (him, not me). But there are some dishes that I give him free reign over, and this is one of them. Ever since we started dating, I’ve always found his turkey chili to be full of flavor (which is hard with turkey meat since it’s often times lacking the salty umami fats of other proteins), and the kind of comfort food that sticks to your bones in the wintertime.
So when he feels like it’s his turn to cook dinner for a change, which just means he’s tired of doing the dishes, he makes his turkey chili, which I love, and take the work for lunch the next day…when it’s even better than the night he made it.
- 1 tbslp olive oil
- 1.5 lbs of ground turkey*
- 1 tbslp non-salted butter
- 1 medium onion roughly chopped
- 2 stalks of celery
- 3 large cloves of garlic roughly chopped
- 15 oz can of whole kidney beans
- 15 oz can of whole black beans
- 15 oz can of whole pinto beans
- 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
- 6 oz can of tomato paste
- 1 tsp chili powder
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- ¼ tsp dried rosemary
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper **
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes **
- ~1.5 cups water
- 1 ½ tsp granulated sugar
- 1 tbslp brown sugar
- salt & pepper to taste along the way
- 1 pt of crème fraiche (or sour cream)
*We used a habanero spiced Sonoma ground turkey from Bistro SF. If you’ve ever thought ground turkey was bland, it’s because you haven’t had any of the ground meats that Bistro SF makes. Which they serve at their restaurant and the farmer’s market in NOPA on Sundays. Yum!
** if you’re using a spiced or flavored meat that has some heat, you can eliminate some of the cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes. If you want more heat, then by all means add more.
Add the olive oil to a large saucepot (I prefer Lodge enameled cast iron, which is just as effective and a fraction of the price of the Le Creuset version) over medium heat. Once the oil is nice and hot, add your ground turkey meat and sauté it until it’s mostly cooked (Jonathan’s exact words were “not cooked all the way, but mostly done. Cooked on the outsides only because it’s going to stew in the pot later.”). Take the meat out of the pot, leaving some of the juices behind, and set aside. Add a tblsp of butter to the pot and once melted, add the chopped onions and celery, cooking for 3-5 mins until slightly softened and translucent. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Jonathan efficiently uses the time while the veggies are cooking to prepare the beans by draining them and rinsing them under cold water. He opens up the diced tomatoes and the paste as well. Then he adds the garlic to the cooked veggies and stirs just until the garlic is fragrant.
Then he adds the slightly cooked ground turkey and any pooled juices back to the pot and heats the meat back up. Then he adds the diced tomatoes and stirs them in until well combined. Next goes in the beans, tomato paste, and dried spices. He stirs the pot while everything heats back up and then adds the water and continues to stir until everything is well combined and simmering. Depending on how thick you like your chili, you can add more or less water. In general, the water should just come to the surface of the ingredients and the longer you keep the chili over heat, the more moister will evaporate, causing it to thicken slightly. At the very end he adds the sugars, and then tastes what’s going on to see if he wants to add anymore heat, dried herbs or sugar.
Once the flavorings are all in order, he turns the heat down to medium low, covers the pot and lets it simmer for 15 minutes. If you have the time, let it simmer for 20-30 mins to intensify the flavors.
You can serve this over white or brown rice, with some grated cheese (cheddar is always good) some green onions or chives, and don’t forget the dollop of crème fraiche (or sour cream). This is also great served with a crusty rustic bread or tortilla chips.
Before serving, make sure you stir the pot, because everything tends to settle on the bottom
- Jonathan doesn’t normally add celery to this dish, but we had it in the fridge and didn’t want them to go bad.
- You probably don’t need to add regular and brown sugar to this recipe, but we started with regular and felt like the slighted molasses sweetness from some brown sugar would be good. So I’d actually recommend adding all brown sugar.
- If like cooking with beer, you can substitute a rich chocolaty stout instead of the water.
- If you don’t want to cook with beer, but have some veggie or chicken broth to use, you can substitute that instead of the water too.
- Could probably add a dash or two of some Worcestershire sauce to this too if you wanted.