turkey and bean chili

I didn’t watch much football growing up, but for several years close family friends would come over to watch the Superbowl with us.  My mom would make a huge pot of chili, a salad, and brownies ahead of time and she and Amy, the mom of our friends, would go out to get dinner and watch a movie leaving the kids with the dads to watch the game.  I guess it’s because of that that I’ve always associated chili with football, so when Joseph’s favorite football team, the Texas A&M Aggies, had a rare televised game this past Thursday, I decided we had to make chili.

I’ve always thought that I only like vegetarian chili, but I had chili turkey chili at a friend’s house over the summer and I loved it.  So we picked up some turkey and beans and got to cooking.  The cool thing about chili is that it’s so versatile.  If you have veggies you need to use up, throw them in.  Don’t have fresh veggies on hand?  Throw in some frozen corn.  If you don’t like meat in your chili, don’t put it in.   If you want a meatier chili, leave out some or all of the beans and maybe even some of the veggies if you’re really feeling carnivorous.

Since I’ve only ever made veggie chili, we did some quick research as we were firing up the pot and learned that cocoa powder adds complexity and a roasted flavor to chili.  Bring it on!  We also had some leftover pancetta and figured, sure, why not!  The end result was a nice hearty chili with deep, yummy flavors which was much more satisfying than the end result of the game (poor Aggies! Lost the game in the last 2 seconds!).

Serve the chili with a nice green salad, corn bread, and beer, or if you’re feeling like kicking it up a notch as we did, margaritas! Turn on the game and cheer!

Turkey and Bean Chili

Serves 6-8

We used ingredients that we had on hand already for the chili, such as the pancetta and chipotle peppers in adobo.  Like I said, chili is really versatile, so feel free to play around with the ingredients. You can obviously also adapt the heat according to your taste.  I would say that the recipe below would be about a medium spicy.

3 oz pancetta, finely chopped (1/8 inch squares)
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, minced
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
1 lb ground turkey
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups chicken broth
14 oz can diced tomatoes with hot peppers
14 oz can fire roasted crushed tomatoes
8 oz tomato paste
14 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
14 oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
14 oz can white northern beans, rinsed and drained
3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
3/4 cup frozen corn
Shredded extra sharp cheddar for serving

Cook pancetta in large pot or dutch oven until most of the fat has been rendered, about 5 minutes.  Add oil and allow it heat up.  Add the onions and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic, jalapeños, oregano, cumin, and chili powder.

Add the ground turkey and cook, stirring, until it’s no longer pink. Add the cocoa powder and cinnamon.  Add the broth, canned tomatoes (including liquids), beans, tomato paste, chipotle peppers, salt, and bay leaves.  Bring to a simmer and add bell peppers and corn.  Simmer on low 30-60 minutes (depending on how desperate you are) and serve with shredded cheddar.


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