Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Good (For You) Food : Three-Bean Turkey Chili

It is a stormy day here in St. Pete so it seems like the perfect time to share with you this recipe for a hearty but healthy chili I made weeks ago. (I know, I've been holding out on you!) The original recipe is endlessly customizable, in terms of what kind of beans you use and how you prepare them, your choice of peppers (spicy or mild), and even how you cook the chili itself (stovetop, slow cooker, pressure cooker). 

For my version, I capitalized on the convenience of canned beans and made the whole thing in my enameled cast iron pot. I diced up one poblano pepper, for just a hint of spice, and one bell pepper—actually, half of a red bell pepper and half of an orange one, for color. The original recipe is also vegetarian, but I added some lean ground turkey to make the chili extra filling and flavorful. I will urge you to pay a couple extra bucks for the fire-roasted tomatoes; they really do make a difference.

This one-pot wonder is perfect for a weeknight dinner—it's quick (if you use canned beans) and easy, you probably have many of the ingredients already in your pantry. Plus, it makes killer leftovers for lunch the next day. (See photographic proof below.) My husband was a fan and I'm not exaggerating at all when I say he raved throughout the mealbetween each bite even—that it was the best chili he'd ever had.

Three-Bean Turkey Chili
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 40 minutes | Yield: Makes 4 to 6 large servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped small
1 to 2 peppers of your choice, finely chopped (I used one poblano and bell pepper)
20-ounces (1.25 pounds) ground turkey
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
3 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
3 teaspoons kosher or coarse salt, or 2 teaspoons table salt
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh-cracked black pepper
1 12-ounce bottle beer (I used Dos Equis but you can use whatever you like!)
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes, fire-roasted if available
3 15-ounce cans of beans of your choice, drained and rinsed (I used low-sodium kidney, pinto and black beans)

Optional accoutrements: Lime wedges, sour cream, diced white onion, diced tomato, avocado, cilantro, hot sauce (like Cholula), warm corn or flour tortillas, or crispy tortilla strips (how-to below!)

Heat oil in the bottom of a medium-sized heavy pot or Dutch oven. Once warm, add onion and cook for 5 minutes, until translucent. Add fresh diced peppers and cook for 3 more minutes. Toss in the ground turkey, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Once the turkey begins to brown add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper and cook for a couple minutes, until everything is browned and deeply fragrant. Pour in the beer and scrape up any bits stuck to the pot. Boil until the beer is reduced by half.

Stir in the can of crushed tomatoes, put a lid on the pot, and let the mixture simmer for 20 minutes. Add the drained and rinsed beans and let simmer for 10 minutes more, until the beans are warmed through. If the chili looks too dry for your liking, you can add 1/4 cup of water and simmer for a few minutes longer. (We didn't do this, as we liked ours nice and thick.)

Serve as-is or with toppings.

Now, this chili would be good all on its own but I believe what makes chili so much fun to eat is the toppings! If given an array of choices, everyone can make their bowl just the way they like it. Personally, I go a bit wild with the toppings. I joked to the hubby that my bowl of chili looked like it was ready to go to Rio! (Um, see above.) I added diced white onion, extra tomatoes, creamy avocado, a dollop (or two) of sour cream, a squeeze of lime, a few dashes of hot sauce and some tortilla strips, for crunch. 

If you've never done it, it's easy to make your own restaurant-worthy tortilla strips at home.

To make tortilla strips: Lightly oil both sides of a corn or flour tortilla. Stack up a couple (one per person should be plenty) and cut into half-inch strips. Scatter on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and pop into a preheated oven set at 350 degrees. Mine took about 5 to 10 minutes to toast up; just keep your eyes on them. The strips are done when they are golden brown and crispy.

I hope you'll give this recipe a try! I have to agree with my husband, it also is the best chili I've ever eaten. And with so many ways to jazz it up, this recipe is sure to be a go-to whenever we're in the mood for something warm, cozy and satisfying, without any of that comfort food guilt.

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