Hearty Turkey Chili with Black Beans

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The holidays are over and I am back to work in the dr deb office. Bob is on sabbatical, but working harder on his many projects than he does during a typical semester. Megan was home for a while, but is now back in Baltimore working on her MA dolphin research proposal. And Brian has one more week of winter break before he goes back to GWU for his final(!) semester of college.

It’s a snowy day, and as usual, Brian and I started planning dinner together. My thoughts turned to my brother’s birthday, which is later this week. If he’d survived the cancer that took is life in 1987, Steven would be turning 54 on the 10th. I was remembering his favorite foods as my son and I were thinking about the options…

I looked out at the snow. Steven was a great skier. He chose to go to UVM so he could ski all winter. There was nothing he loved more than a hearty bowl of chili at the end of a day on the slopes.

So, I suggested turkey chili (I don’t eat red meat) to Brian, who enjoys that kind of thing…he is a fan of dishes involving the potential for multiple garnishes. He said he was craving a dark, meaty sort of chili with lots of umami. So, I set about creating a turkey chili that has the depth of flavor of one made with beef.
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 Hearty Turkey Chili with Black Beans

 I used some unusual ingredients to create the darkness and beefy flavor we wanted. I also mashed half of the beans to contribute to the meatiness and to thicken the dish. If you are eating paleo, feel free to leave out the beans.

1 tbs. healthy neutral oil (almond, walnut, coconut, or peanut)
2 medium onions
1 jalepeno
1 tbs. ground cumin
2 tbs. ground ancho chili
1 tsp. ground chipotle chili
1 tsp. spicy chili powder
2 packages lean ground turkey
1 can black beans (I like goya), rinsed
2 tbs. soy sauce or tamari
1 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
14 oz can crushed tomatoes (I like Muir Glen)
handful of cilantro, minced, plus more for garnish
¼ cup dark beer
salt and pepper to taste
optional garnishes: cilantro leaves, sour cream, lime, avocado (diced or mashed), minced red onion, grated sharp cheddar, diced fresh tomato, hot sauce

Thinly slice 1½ of the onions pole to pole. Reserve the other half for garnish. Mince the jalepeno finely and reserve half of that for garnish, too. Remember that the seeds and membranes are the hot part, so include as much as you like for heat. Mash half of the black beans.

Saute’ the sliced onion and pepper in the oil in a big pot and let them cook for a couple of minutes. Now add the spices and cook for a couple of minutes; and then the mashed beans. Add the turkey and a hearty pinch of salt. Cook everything, stirring often, until the turkey begins to lose its pink. Tomatoes go into the pot; let the chili cook for 10 minutes. Add the cilantro and the beer and cook for another 15 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Serve with all or some or none of the garnishes.

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