On a cold winter day, there’s nothing better than a hot meal in a cozy bowl. Food in a bowl retains heat longer, and there’s a particular comfort to eating with a spoon. Turkey chili is a staple comfort food in our house. A big pot makes a hearty dinner with plenty left over for easy lunches or another dinner that’s every bit as good as the original.
Turkey chili is a handy pantry dish to make when I’m low on fresh ingredients. I usually have ground turkey in the freezer, cheddar cheese in the fridge and onions and garlic rolling around somewhere. Of course you can use ground beef; I just prefer ground turkey, which I find lighter. But the end product really tastes very much the same either way.
Feel free to throw in random veggies you have around – bell peppers, winter greens, even winter squash. I made a batch recently using up an acorn squash I bought but didn’t get around to using. Chopped it up into cubes and sauteed it with the onions; it softened up and blended right in.
I stock up on pantry chili ingredients so I always have them on hand.
Onions in a pot.
Add ground turkey.
Break up meat and saute until cooked through. Drain meat in colander to get rid of excess juices. I just pop on the pot lid ever-so-slightly askew and pour the juices out, but I can’t recommend this method, as it may leave you with a sinkful of ground turkey.
Add minced garlic, salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin and oregano.
Rinse beans in a colander. Next time I’ll drain my meat safely in a large colander; then I can re-use it to rinse my pinto and black beans all at once instead separately in my small colander as I did here.
You can use whatever beans you have on hand – kidney beans are of course the classic chili bean, but white kidney (cannellini), small white navy beans or even garbanzo beans (chickpeas) will work. I like pinto over kidney for the thinner skin.
Add tomatoes and tomato sauce. I don’t use canned tomato sauce in general, but my mom puts a can in her chili, and I have to admit there’s something to it. Also add two cups of water (handy to use the tomato sauce can so you can get the rest of the sauce out).
Cover and simmer for however long you have – make it a lively simmer if you need to make it quick (20-30 minutes), or a low simmer if you are making ahead of time (1-2 hours or longer). Check periodically and stir to see if it needs a bit more water.
I always add corn at the end. You can also add crushed red pepper if you like more spice (I keep it mild for the kids).
Serve with any toppings you like: sour cream (or my favorite substitute, greek yogurt), diced avocado, slivered scallions, chopped cilantro. Or stay classic with grated Cheddar.
This is a great pantry dish to make when I’m low on fresh ingredients. I usually have ground turkey in the freezer, cheddar cheese in the fridge and onions and garlic rolling around somewhere. I love leftovers in the fridge for lunch.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- Crushed red pepper, to taste
- 1 15-oz can pinto beans, rinsed
- 1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed
- 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 15-oz can tomato sauce
- 3 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (1 lb frozen)
Toppings (any or all)
- Cheddar cheese, grated
- Sour cream or greek yogurt
- Avocado, cubed or sliced
- Scallions, sliced thin
- Cilantro, chopped
- Heat large saucepan or Dutch oven on medium heat. Add olive oil and diced onions. Saute until soft and translucent.
- Add ground turkey, breaking up meat with a large spoon. Saute until meat is cooked through (no pink). Drain meat in colander to rid of excess juices. Put meat back in pan.
- Add garlic, salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin and oregano to the meat. Saute briefly to heat spices.
- Rinse beans in colander. Add to meat and stir.
- Add tomatoes and tomato sauce. Stir.
- Fill tomato sauce can with water and add. Stir.
- When chili starts to boil, turn heat to low and cover. If you want to make it quick, cook at a lively simmer for 20-30 minutes. If you are making ahead of time, cook at a low simmer for 1-2 hours, or more. Check periodically to add more water if necessary.
- Add corn and crushed red pepper to taste. Serve with toppings as desired: grated cheese, sour cream (or my favorite substitute, greek yogurt), diced avocado, slivered scallions, cilantro.
- Feel free to use whatever beans you have handy – kidney beans are of course the classic chili bean, but white kidney (cannellini), small white navy beans or even garbanzo beans (chickpeas) will work.
- Add other vegetables if desired: bell peppers, winter greens, zucchini – I’ve even added cubed winter squash, which blends right in.
- Leftover chili will thicken when cooled. Add a bit of water when reheating if you like it soupier.
Here’s a link to a printable version of the recipe.
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