During the early days of the pandemic, when everyone was in lockdown, I learned while cooking three meals a day to make substitutions for ingredients that I didn’t have on hand. Fontina cheese might be replaced with white cheddar, onions might be used instead of leeks, and lime juice stood in for lemon juice in many of my recipes. Such replacements became so routine that gradually I began to realize that I liked the newer versions better than the originals. That is certainly true for the spicy turkey chili with an array of garnishes featured here today.
Chili, whether fashioned with beef, pork, or turkey as in this variation, is a cold weather favorite that is a simple to make. For my creation, I browned ground turkey (with dark meat being my preference) and seasoned it with cumin, oregano, plus both traditional chili powder and chipotle chili powder for extra heat. Next, I simmered the meat in chicken stock along with sautéed onions and garlic, plus diced canned tomatoes. Canned black beans, rinsed and drained, were a final addition.
I also tried garnishes that I had not used before. In place of cheddar, I used grated Mahon cheese, and sometimes Manchego or creamy Fontina. When there was no sour cream in the fridge, crème fraîche was a favorite replacement. Rather than more fiery peppers, I tried shishitos, popular in Japan, charring them quickly in a hot skillet. I was fortunate to have onions and cilantro on hand, but in place of warmed tortillas or homemade cornbread, I pulled a package of garlic naan from the fridge and toasted the breads lightly!
I now think of this dish as my “around-the-world” chili! What I learned during the pandemic is that recipes like chili are so flexible that you can easily create your own culinary imprint. I hope you’ll do that with this recipe! Enjoy!
Print This Recipe
Spicy Turkey Chili with an Array of Garnishes
1 pd turkey meat, breast or dark meat (my preference), patted dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture
Canola oil for sautéing
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 medium onion, chopped to yield 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups
1 tsp minced garlic (1 large clove)
One 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
5 cups reduced sodium chicken stock plus more if needed
One 15 to 15.5 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained well
3 cups cooked long grain rice such as basmati
1 generous cup grated Mahon, Manchego, Italian Fontina or other good melting cheese
8 shishito peppers with stems (See market tip.)
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup crème fraîche
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
4 garlic or traditional naan, toasted very lightly in a toaster
1.To a large 4- to 5-quart heavy pot (with a lid) set over medium heat, add enough canola oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When oil is hot, add ground turkey and cook, stirring frequently, until browned and any liquid has evaporated, 5 to 6 minutes or more. If turkey meat is sticking to pan, add a little extra canola oil. With a slotted spoon, remove turkey to a plate and set aside.
2.Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of canola oil to the same pot set over medium heat. When oil is hot, add onions, and sauté, stirring, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and sauté a minute more. Return turkey to the pot, and stir in cumin, oregano, chili powder, chipotle chili powder, and salt. Stir and cook a minute. Add tomatoes and 3 cups of the stock. Bring the mixture to a simmer and then reduce heat. Cover, and cook at a gentle simmer for 30 minutes. Uncover, add another cup of stock, and cook 30 minutes more at a gentle simmer, stirring several times to prevent sticking on the bottom of the pan. Much of the liquid will cook down during this time.
3.Stir in the beans and another 1 cup of the stock. Cook another 10 minutes. Then if chili is too thin continue to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. If the chili is too thick add additional stock to thin slightly and cook a minute more. Taste and, if desired, season with more salt and with pinches of chipotle chili pepper and chili pepper. (Chili can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cool, cover, and refrigerate. Reheat over medium heat, stirring often.)
4.While chili is simmering prepare the shishito peppers, Heat just enough canola oil to lightly cover the bottom of a medium large, heavy skillet set over medium heat. When hot, add shishito peppers and cook, turning often with tongs, until charred on several sides, about 5 minutes total. Remove to a plate.
5.To serve mound some cooked rice in four soup bowls and ladle chili on top. Offer a tray of ramekins or bowls filled with grated cheese, charred shishito peppers, onions, crème fraîche, and cilantro as garnishes. Arrange warm naan in a napkin-lined basket or dish. Serves 4.
Market note: Shishitos are a variety of mild Asian peppers that are 3 to 4 inches long with slim stems. Sold while they are green (they turn red when mature), they are mostly mild in taste, but occasionally one will have some heat. They are often packaged in plastic bags, and can be found in the produce sections of stores such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. I like to char them with their stems and then remove those stems before eating them.
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2023