Sunday, November 7, 2010

turkey chili texas style

Let me start by dispelling a misconception about Texas chili. Many non-Texans seem to be under the impression that Texas chili is bean-less by doctrine. Myth! I don't know who spread this rumor, but we definitely love beans in our chili.

Chili is definitely one of those "soul" foods for Texans. My sister always tells a story about the time she lived in Rhode Island. She tried to throw a neighborhood chili cook-off, and a bunch of people showed up with clam chowder. Clam chowder? What a joke. The fact that someone would rather eat clam chowder than a spicy, meaty chili is incomprehensible to me.

It's funny how attractive soulful comfort foods can be. When I started making this chili, I had the intention to make a white chili with hatch chilis and spinach. But as I cooked, I couldn't resist turning back to my familiar flavors. Chili powder, cumin, tomatoes, mmmm. I wanted that smoky chili that would make my nose run without burning my mouth. In other words, I couldn't resist making a chili that felt like home.


1/2 pound ground turkey
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1 can cannellini beans, drained
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 can crushed tomatoes
1/2 tbs cumin
1/2 tbs chili powder (to start, add more depending on your heat preference)
salt & pepper to taste
olive oil

In a large pot, brown the turkey over medium heat. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate. Reserve a tablespoon of the fat in the pan.
Add the onions with 1/4 tsp salt, cooking until translucent. (If they start to stick, add a little olive oil.) Add the garlic and red pepper. Cook for a minute (don't burn!), then add the turkey back into the pot.
Add the the beans, tomatoes, and spices. Put on the lid and reduce to med-low heat. Allow to simmer for another 30-45 minutes, until the chili is thick. I suggest adding a little salt at at time, to taste. Remember that you can always add more salt. but you can't take the salt away once it's in.

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