Chili power

It’s turning super cold this week in Indiana, which means one thing – it’s chili weather! Every fall when football season gets underway, I think of chili, and when the weather outside is frightful, a deep steamy bowl of spicy chili is certainly delightful.

Now, I’m a little picky about my chili. For years, the only chili I would eat was my dad’s, a watery soupy version with beef and beans. My dad’s a hunter and I suspect he often substituted venison hamburger for beef on the sly, tricking me into eating it by keeping mum. (I can’t bear the thought of supping on Bambi.) I also used to have a long-standing aversion to kidney beans, which I’ve sort of overcome in recent years. I’m still not crazy about them, but I tolerate them now in some recipes.

When I was last in Ireland visiting my inlaws, my sister-in-law Margaret (who manages to cook creatively for her husband, four kids, au pair and whoever else is around and make it all taste fabulous) whipped up a huge pot of a deliciously sweet chili con carne with rice. It was all meat, no beans and thick enough to be a spaghetti bolognese sauce. I asked her the secret to her recipe and she said it was the addition of sweet chili paste, which I can’t seem to find here in the U.S. grocery store. Bummer. I have added her suggestions of cinnamon and cardamom to my own recipe, which really adds to the flavor and makes a huge difference tastewise.

This season, I’ve been trying to perfect a good turkey chili recipe that I keep tweaking slightly each time I make it. I think I’ve got it pretty well sussed, in spite of the fact that I am not allowed to include onions anytime I cook it for my husband. (One doesn’t realize how often onions are called for until one is forbidden from using them.) It seems like a lot of ingredients upon the first read through, but I find measuring all of the spices and seasonings out into a small bowl before you get started makes it much easier to dump them in all at once when you get to that stage.

Chili purists eat only the soup itself, but I like to jazz it up with some rice, a little diced avocado and oyster crackers or maybe a few crushed corn chips on top. Cheddar cheese doesn’t really work too well with the seasonings in this recipe, but a little dollop of sour cream goes quite well.

Try it and enjoy!

Amy’s Tweaked Turkey Chili

Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 1 hr
Makes: 5 smallish 1-cup servings (I often double the recipe, it freezes and reheats superbly)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 cup chopped yellow onion
    1 tablespoon minced garlic
    1/4 cup chopped yellow bell peppers
    1 pound ground turkey
    1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
    1 (16-ounce) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
    2 cups low-sodium chicken stock (1 can)
    2 tablespoons chili powder
    1 tablespoon sugar
    a few sprinkles of red pepper flakes (to taste)
    1 teaspoon Kosher salt
    1 teaspoon dried basil
    1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
    couple dashes of ground cloves

In a large skillet, saute the onion, garlic and bell pepper in the olive oil over medium heat until onions are translucent. Add ground turkey and cook until browned, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Alternately, you can put the browned turkey and veggies in a crock pot, add the other ingredients and cook on low for 4 – 6 hours.