Comfort food makes winter nights bearable. Sunshine is at a premium, the cold and dark take over and often makes us homebound – and hungry.
One of my favorite go-to dinners on cold nights is chili. It’s an easy dinner to make and – bonus! – make enough, and you have leftovers for dinner and lunch throughout the week.
Today was one of those Sundays. You know when it strikes you that your week is os full of work, social engagements, and more work. The obvious solution is to cut back on the social engagements, but this week I have a fun happy hour, a class at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and one of my best friend’s birthdays! Keeping all of that in mind, I hit the grocery store, stocked up on veggies and healthy-ish snacks for the week and settled into the kitchen for a night of chili making.
This particular Sunday was also the now-famous Broncos-Steelers game. I had friends at the game and watching the game; I had decided to avoid watching – I always get sucked in, and I think most Steelers fans are annoying. Making a pot of chili was the perfect way to spend my evening.
When I was growing up my mom made really good chili. She used beef, red kidney beans, chili powder, onions – the usual. It is always delicious. I will never forget the time she used really spicy chilies – to this day she can’t recall if they were chipotles or jalapenos – and our unseasoned palates just couldn’t take it. We tried everything; ice, more diced tomatoes, sour cream, milk, extra cheese, more ground beef. Eventually, we persevered and finished the chili.
It should be noted that all the Moran kids (now adults!) grew up to be enthusiastic eaters. Thirty years passed before deciding I liked asparagus. Now, I can’t wait until spring. I’m convinced if my younger sister, Jenn, tries it in different ways, she will also love it.
The following is my turkey chili recipe. It’s adapted from Whole Foods Market recipe, which I used mainly for measurements and flavor profile. I like to use turkey because it’s leaner and has a lighter flavor than beef. If you’re a chili purist (or jerk), feel free to use beef.
Game Day Turkey Chili
(Yes, Denverites, you may call it Tebow Chili)
1 T canola oil
1 pound lean ground turkey breast
1 medium red (or yellow, if that’s what you have) onion, chopped
1 medium jalapeno, stemmed, (not cored – the seeds have the heat!), and chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 medium yellow, orange, or red pepper (Use green if that’s what’s available and affordable, I just like the color presentation.), diced
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 C tomato sauce (I used leftover marinara I had in the fridge.)
2 t chili powder
1-2 t sea salt, or to taste
1/8 t cayenne pepper
1/8 t paprika (smoked is a nice touch, if you have it on hand)
1 15-ounce can white kidney beans or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
Grated cheddar cheese
Chopped green onion
Heat oil in over medium heat a large pot or Dutch oven (4 quart works well). Add onions, peppers, and garlic to pan and heat through until onions are translucent and peppers are soft, about five minutes.
Add ground turkey, breaking up with a wooden spoon or sturdy, heat-proof spatula. Brown until meat is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add whole can of tomatoes, and tomato sauce, if using. (The tomato sauce is optional. You could add water or broth, if you don’t have tomato sauce or pasta sauce around.)
Add chili powder, salt, cayenne, and paprika. Bring to a simmer. (Taste your chili at this point. If you need more salt, add a little at a time.)
Cover and cook for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally Stir in the beans and cook another five minutes to cook through.
Optional: Serve chili with grated cheddar cheese, chopped green onions, and/or sour cream. I like mine plain.
This chili is great the day you make it, and even better the next day.