Friday, February 22, 2008

Turkey Chili with Beans: Comfort Me with Chili

Edited 3/26/10 to add: Hi there, folks from CNN! Hope you dig this chili. If you find it a bit complicated, this Easy Bean Chili recipe from Cook's Illustrated may be a good option.

When you hit your 30s, you begin to find that your generation’s grandparents aren’t around so much anymore. Most have passed on, many are incapacitated, some are squeaking by, and a lucky few are still spry teenagers concealed behind nonagenarian wrinkles and Christmas sweatshirts. Age has to happen to everyone, I guess. The certainty of passing time is hard to comprehend, and I assume, even tougher to confront with anything resembling grace. But somehow, folks manage.

My remaining grandma passed away last year. The Boyfriend’s moved on early Wednesday morning. They were lovely ladies whose lives couldn’t have been more unalike. The Midwesterner was by all accounts a good cook and talented artist. The New Yorker - well, not so much with the cooking. But she loved us pretty hard. And I loved her for it.

What any of this has to do with food is minor or momentous, depending on your point of view. Home-cooked meals can be a bittersweet reminder of gatherings and kitchen sessions gone by, or a warming, filling comfort in times of emptiness. Good dishes won’t replace people by any means, but for ten seconds, it might make their absence sting a bit less.

With that, here’s today’s recipe. It’s a Turkey Chili with Beans based on the February 1997 issue of Bon Appetit. I made it Wednesday night for The Boyfriend, and included a long list of reader review alterations that I won’t regale you with. Just know the end product was a metric ton of the best turkey chili I’ve ever had. If you make it, try to create your own chili powder (recipe included below) or use a salt-free mix. A lot of the store-bought mixes have extra NaCl in them, which could throw off the taste a bit.

Hope you enjoy the food, and in the meantime - here’s to you, R and H.

Turkey Chili with Beans
Serves 8 generously
Adapted from Bon Appetit/Epicurious.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 pounds lean ground turkey
1/4 cup chili powder (Recipe below. – Kris)
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, undrained
1 2/3 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
1 1/3 cups amber beer (I used Dos Equis XX Ambar. – Kris)
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 15-ounce can small white beans, rinsed, drained
1 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed, drained
1 15-ounce can pink kidney beans, rinsed, drained

Serving suggestions: Chopped red onion, chopped fresh cilantro, plain low-fat yogurt or light sour cream

1) In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions. Cook about 9 minutes, until soft and slightly browned, stirring occasionally. Add garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add oregano and cumin. Cook another minute, stirring all the way.

2) Jack heat up to medium-high. Move veggies to perimeter of pan. Add turkey. Cook until slightly browned, breaking up the meat as you go along. Add chili powder, bay leaves, cocoa powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir everything together. Add undrained tomatoes and juices. Break tomatoes up with your spoon. Add stock, beer, and tomato sauce and bring to boil. Cut the heat back to medium-low and simmer about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3) Add beans. Cook until warmed through, about 10 minutes. Fish out bay leaves and throw them in the garbage. Serve with topping suggestions.

Homemade Chili Powder
Makes a little more than ¼ cup
Adapted from Recipe Zaar.

2 tablespoons paprika
2 teaspoons oregano
1 1/4 teaspoons cumin
1 1/4 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon onion powder

1) Mix'em up.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price per Serving

362.6 calories, 9.5 g fat, $1.03

1 tablespoon vegetable oil: 124 calories, 14 g fat, $0.06
2 medium onions, chopped: 92 calories, 0.2 g fat, $0.38
2 large cloves garlic, minced: 9 calories, 0 g fat, $0.03
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano: 5 calories, 0.2 g fat, $0.03
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin: negligible calories and fat, $0.03
1 1/2 pounds lean ground turkey: 974 calories, 48.7 g fat, $2.49
1/4 cup chili powder (Self-made mix. – Kris): 71 calories, 2.4 g fat, $0.18
2 bay leaves: negligible calories and fat, $0.06
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder: 12 calories, 0.7 g fat, $0.08
1 1/2 teaspoons salt: negligible calories and fat, $0.02
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon: negligible calories and fat, $0.10
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes: 151 calories, 1 g fat, $0.79
1 2/3 cups beef stock or canned beef broth: 28 calories, 0.9 g fat, $0.41
1 1/3 cups amber beer: 136 calories, 0 g fat, $1.75
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce: 86 calories, 0.5 g fat, $0.34
1 15-ounce can small white beans, rinsed, drained: 498 calories, 1.2 g fat, $0.50
1 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed, drained: 366 calories, 3.5 g fat, $0.50
1 15-ounce can pink kidney beans, rinsed, drained: 349 calories, 2.6 g fat, $0.50
TOTAL: 2901 calories, 75.9 g fat, $8.25
PER SERVING (TOTAL/8): 362.6 calories, 9.5 g fat, $1.03

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Monika K said...

Chili is definitely one of my all-time favorite meals... By the way, the Colbert video below is HILarious!

kevin said...

That was a poignant post. Eating with my family always makes me feel at home. A storm could be raging outside, but around the table with your family, you're safe.

Deborah said...

I love this post and the recipe! I'd give just about anything to have one of my grandmother's signature dishes - or more importantly, the time with her while she made it.

C T said...

My sympathies to both you and the BF.

This post hits close to home, as I lost my remaining grandma last year. Holiday cookies notwithstanding, my family has (had!) exactly one food tradition: Easter Day gnocchi topped with tomato sauce. We loved them, but they were only to be served at Easter. Though my grandma was not known for culinary expertise (her ma was an outstanding cook - from the Old Country - and thus did all of the cooking in their near-communal living quarters), she was an expert at making gnocchi. On Easter Day the preparation was part of the ritual, and anyone older than 10 who happened to wander into the kitchen was cajoled into ricing, rolling or poking. In more recent years I became my grandma's apprentice, paying closer and closer attention as her health became more frail. After her passing, I attempted to make them on my own, and they turned out beautifully. However, when the big day (Easter) arrived, I could only produce doughy, dense globs that barely rose to the water's surface. Though ready to whip out my Plan B, I served the gnocchi anyway. Few words were spoken around the dinner table that day.

The point of this long story? Well, I (and my family) would be forever grateful for a refresher course in making gnocchi. You're the perfect person to extol their CHG-ness!

Kris said...

Hey, thank you for leaving comments you guys. We just got back from the grandmother's funeral, and it was really neat to see what fond memories everybody have of both her and her food.

And C T - I LOVE gnocchi. I took a class in it last year, and will definitely feature it sometime in the near future.

Pratistha said...

Simple recipe but you need 18 ingredients to prepare it. This could scare people away. If you are here to encourage people to cook, why not share recipe that is simple as well as takes less ingredients.

Anonymous said...

I do cook almost all meals at home, and was curious as to this recipe. I love chili, but was thinking that for someone who has not done much cooking this recipe has way too many ingredients. Chili is extremely easy and good without cinnamon for example. Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

I came here via the CNN article and I agree with the others that this is not an "easy recipe." If you're trying to persuade people to ditch convenience foods, how about a truly basic chili recipe that doesn't reek of elitism. Bay leaves, amber beer and cocoa powder? Oh, pleeease! Try instead: Ground turkey + can of beans + large can of diced tomatoes + packet of chili seasoning. Easy peasy.

Anonymous said...

It's a lot of ingredients, but mostly ingredients you don't have to do anything to. You just throw them into a pot. How is that difficult? I'm planning on making this tonight and I doubt it will take more than 15 or 20 minutes to assemble.

Convenience is nice, but why eat less flavorful food when a few extra minutes will result in a better product?