This turkey chili is one of our favorite recipes, not just because we've made it a hundred times (at least). It was one of the first things we created on our own, starting with a version we made in our first minuscule apartment in New York City 10 years ago. It has evolved over the years, but this is the recipe we've stuck with for quite some time. We waited for Soup Month (and a snowy day) to share it...
We know chili is a very sacred dish to some people, especially those from Texas. And this one may not look too authentic, given the turkey and the lack of kidney beans. Here are a few notes on its many incarnations:
• It used to have kidney beans, but we have a family member who doesn't like them, and since we're married to said family member, we switched to black beans. Now we prefer the way their smaller size allows us to get a little bit of everything in each spoonful.
• Black beans and corn are such nice playmates, and frozen corn is so good, we made that a staple.
• We went from white meat turkey to the darker, 93% lean kind. It not only adds more flavor but also crumbles much, much better.
• This is the first time we've ever actually written down the spice measurements, even though we get a consistent taste every time. Our mix is equal sweet and spicy (we add a pretty healthy dose of brown sugar) but you can adjust yours and make it your own.
• The kale is new. We like having something green for color; in the summer, it's green pepper. In the winter, we've started adding kale or spinach towards the end of cooking. Healthy!
Easy Turkey Chili with Kaleserves 4 to 6
1 1/3 pounds 93% lean ground turkey (ours comes in a 1.3-lb package, but a 1-lb package works, too)
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 tablespoons cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 small bunch lacinato kale, tough stems removed and roughly chopped (or a couple of big handfuls of spinach or other greens)
Heat a splash of olive oil in a large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the turkey, season with salt and pepper, and cook, breaking apart into crumbles with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove meat with a slotted spoon and set aside.
If you want to pour off some of the remaining fat, you can (we don't). But leave enough to coat the bottom of the pot. Reduce the heat slightly and add the onions and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened. (If you use a green pepper, add it here with the onion.) While the onions and garlic are cooking, combine the brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper in a small bowl, mixing with a fork.
Add the spice mixture and tomato paste to the onions and garlic. Cook for about a minute, stirring to combine the paste with the spices. Add the tomatoes and stir, picking up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot.
Raise the heat to medium and add the meat, beans, corn, and chicken broth to the pot. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then lower the heat, cover, and cook for 20 minutes. Add the kale and continue cooking, covered, for about 15 more minutes.
Related: Recipe: Cincinnati Chili
(Images: Elizabeth Passarella)