Too-Turkey Chili

During the warmer months, I often hear people say things like, “It’s too hot for chili” or “It’s too hot for soup.” Personally, I think that kind of talk is just garbage. I’ve never really understood why it might be “too hot” for something. Do people not like to eat hot things when it’s hot outside? It’s not like you’re sitting outside eating all the time. Maybe the “too hot” idea comes from the fact that the oven makes your kitchen too hot. I can sympathize with this a little more, but regardless of what the temperature is outside, I feel like my kitchen is always on.

Although the temperature is definitely picking up ’round these parts, the nights are still a bit cool. Therefore, I didn’t feel out of place for cooking chili, even if it might be “too hot” outside.

Another reason for me wanting to cook this chili–cook anything really–is that I had had a pretty crappy day. Jay was out of town, I had a cavity filled, and despite it being my spring break my boss was wanting me to come in (how can I call a client if I can’t talk?). I wanted to cook something hearty, yet healthy. I’m still reeling from lots of celebration weekends, and I would like to be able to wear shorts when it really does get too hot to cook with the oven on all day. Thanks to epicurious.com, this turkey chili was a hearty, yet healthy choice.

The reason I’ve titled this “Too-Turkey Chili” is because, well, I bought too much ground turkey. The original recipe called for 1.5 pounds, and I could only buy the ground turkey in 1.2 pound packages. So what did I do? Buy 2 1.2 pound packages! I realized this towards the end of my shopping and I didn’t feel like going back and doubling everything, so I tried to improvise with what I had at home. Luckily, the beef broth I had was too much for the original recipe, so none of that had to go to waste. We also had a few small onions lying around the house and another can of white beans, so I threw in an extra onion and the extra beans. Finally, even though we didn’t have any extra canned tomatoes or tomato juice, we did have some tomato paste hanging out in the cupboard, so that joined the party as well. Other than those additions, I increased the amount of spices, etc. that the original recipe called for.

The result? It was pretty tasty and I could barely stop eating it, but given the fact that it had cinnamon and cocoa powder in the ingredients, it didn’t really have the depth of flavor that I thought it was. A day after I made the chili, after it had been sitting in the fridge for a while, the cinnamon flavor (and fragrance) really came through after we reheated the chili for dinner. It also made A LOT of chili, so we ate on it for a while …. truth be told, we still have some!

I’ve included the original recipe because my additions were kind whatever I felt like. One thing that I would have included more of in my version would be more tomatoes; the chili was just a little thick.

One of the best things about this recipe is that it’s a one-pot meal and pretty easy, once you cut up all those onions.

Turkey Chili with White Beans
(original recipe Bon Appetit February 1997)

Ingredients
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 pounds lean ground turkey
1/4 cup chili powder
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
3 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
3 15-ounce cans small white beans, rinsed, drained

Method
Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until light brown and tender, about 10 minutes. Add oregano and cumin; stir 1 minute. Increase heat to medium-high. Add turkey; stir until no longer pink, breaking up with back of spoon. Stir in chili powder, bay leaves, cocoa powder, salt and cinnamon. Add tomatoes with their juices, breaking up with back of spoon. Mix in stock and tomato sauce. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add beans to chili and simmer until flavors blend, about 10 minutes longer. Discard bay leaves. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium-low heat before continuing.)

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