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)
- 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.
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’!!!
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!