Recipe: Who Wants Turkey Chili?!?

Man, I love a good chili, so I make it a lot. Typically, it’s something I can throw together quickly that will yield meals for the next few days, or frozen for the future, or the apocalypse, whichever comes first. As with almost everything I cook, the emphasize is on nutrition. Using extra lean ground turkey rather than beef really reduces the fat factor while keeping the high protein numbers intact. Veggies contribute the nutrients, red kidney beans bring the fiber, Tabasco sauce supplies the heat, so all in all, this is one hearty and really nutritious meal.

Everyone has their own methods to making chili, and mine is based on ease and simplicity. Here’s my take on classic chili:


  • 1 lb. extra lean ground turkey (mucho importante!!!  Regular ground turkey will fall apart, leaving you with something more akin to beef marinara sauce with beans than chili).
  • (2) 29 oz. cans tomato sauce
  • (3-4) 15 oz. cans red kidney beans
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • I medium green bell pepper, diced
  • Lots of garlic: I typically finely dice nine to ten cloves, because you can never have enough garlic.
  • Mushrooms of some variety, sliced (sometimes, when I’m feeling really kooky, I’ll use shitakis. They give your chili a really fun and unexpected texture).
  • The usual herbs and spices suspects: ground pepper, dash of sea salt, basil, oregano, cumin, bay leaf, fresh cilantro, paprika, a bit of chili powder, a smidge of sugar … anything you like!
  • 1 cup of dry red wine (optional)

The Usual Suspects #1

What a beautiful sight!

The Process

  • In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add ground turkey, and cook through, ten-fifteen minutes.
  • In the meantime, in a colander, drain the kidney beans.
  • Remove turkey to colander and drain what little fat there might be.
    Add oil to pot, and saute veggies. I usually do the mushrooms first because I want them to cook down a little, then add the garlic, green pepper and onion. Cook for ten minutes, or until onion is translucent.
  • Add turkey.
  • Add tomato sauce, herbs and spices and wine.
  • Add kidney beans.

Drain those beans!

Bring to a light, bubbly boil, stirring occasionally. Drop heat to low, and let simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. I usually serve mine over a bed of brown rice, with peas, parmesan cheese and many generous dashes of Tabasco sauce on top! Yum! Have a little salad with that — man, that’s good eatin’!!!

The Usual Suspects #2

A Word About Heat!
I love spicy food. It can’t be spicy enough for me. I used to add diced habanero peppers (known as one of the world’s hottest chilis) to this recipe, but I’ve learned that not everyone has my tolerance for all things spicy.  So now I hold back on the heat on dishes I think I might share with others. This chili is case in point: I knew I was making it too hot a few years ago when a Latino friend of mine said she couldn’t enjoy it because it was too hot! So this is a mild version of chili, but be my guest and spice it up in any way that you like!

About Stephen Kelly Creative

Hi, I'm Stephen Kelly, a writer, editor, photographer and graphic designer living in beautiful San Francisco, CA, USA. Amongst the things I love are writing, photography, movies, music, fitness, travel, Batman, all things Australian, food and fun, all of which I hope to reflect in this here blog. Welcome aboard ... now let's get busy!
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15 Responses to Recipe: Who Wants Turkey Chili?!?

  1. MindMindful says:

    Yum! Your pics of the Usual Suspects are great!

  2. drewpan says:

    That looks really yummy. Mmm… I just ate my breakfast sandwich, and suddenly it feels incredibly unsatisfying.

  3. Angeline M says:

    One cup of red wine…..absolutely!

  4. cocomino says:

    Wow, it looks so yummy although it may be so hot. 🙂
    I like hot food.

  5. caseyhoward says:

    I make a Turkey chili similar to this! Except I have never even thought to put a cup of red wine in it. I will have to try that! Looks amazing!!

    • Hi Casey. I always try to add some wine to my chili if I have some lying around. A splash o’ wine makes the chili a bit richer, and gives it a subtle dry taste. When I add wine, I don’t add as much sugar, since the wine will compensate for it. Give it a try!

  6. petit4chocolatier says:

    This looks absolutely delicious!

  7. Although I like some heat in my food too, I find habanero too strong. But if you really want a heat challenge, how about Scotch bonnet peppers? My brother used to use that kind of sauce in his individual bowl of chili, but I never dared. A little cayenne is usually enough for me!

    • Hey Victoria … I’m one those idiots who can’t have it hot enough … with predictable results .. ha ha! So I’ve done the Scotch bonnet peppers, and I lived to say that they are evil incarnate. But I would put Tabasco in my cereal if it were socially acceptable!

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