Turkey Veggie Chili

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Chili is the perfect dish for dreary, gray winter days. And we have had our share of those lately in St. Louis. I am not complaining, mind you. Compared to the snow our near western neighbors are dealing with, our clouds are a picnic. But I am craving chili and other warming meals.

Chili, for me, is a lunch dish. Rich and Calvin dislike chili with such a passion that I try to make it and eat it when they are at work and school. I make a big batch and freeze it in single serving containers. It is a matter of minutes to thaw a portion in the microwave, top it with shredded cheddar and crackers and dig into the warming deliciousness. Even better if I have homemade bread in the freezer to tear up and drop in the bowl instead of crackers.

I like chili. But I don’t really like cumin. Most commercial chili powders contain cumin, so I made up my own spice combination – paprika, ancho chili powder, ground cayenne and ground chipotle. It may not be for everyone, but I like it. Feel free to adjust the spices to suit your tastes.

I want to enjoy my chili without guilt, so I usually use ground turkey breast for the meat. With all the spices and vegetables I don’t miss the beef. Sometimes I’ll use a combination of lean ground sirloin and ground turkey breast.

I also like to pack as many vegetables into it as I can, so I add celery, carrots, tomatoes, shallots and garlic to the usual beans. I thought about adding zucchini to the mix, but haven’t actually tried that yet. I finely chop the vegetables so they add body and nutrition without announcing their presence so loudly.

Let winter give its last hurrah – I have a stash of chili to get me through until spring.

Download or print the recipe here. 

Turkey Veggie Chili
From The Cook’s Life
Makes 8-10 servings

The canned beans and tomatoes add plenty of salt, so I don’t add any extra.

1 pound ground turkey breast, ground sirloin, or a combination
4 teaspoons paprika
4 teaspoons ancho chili powder
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne, or to taste
¼ teaspoon ground chipotle, or to taste
black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil, optional
2 large shallots or 1 small onion, peeled
2 cloves garlic, peeled
3-4 carrots. peeled, if desired
3-4 ribs celery
1 (15 oz.) can kidney beans, drained
1 (15 oz.) can pinto beans, drained
2 (14.5 oz.) cans petite diced tomatoes, undrained
2 (6 oz.) cans tomato paste
1-2 cups water
Cheddar cheese, for serving
Crackers or bread, for serving

Brown turkey or ground sirloin in a large pot over medium heat. Add spices and stir to combine and break up meat.

While meat cooks, finely chop shallot, garlic, carrots and celery, by hand, or in a food processor. Set aside.

Remove cooked meat from pan and drain, if necessary. Return pot to heat and add olive oil if pan is dry. When oil is hot, add chopped vegetables and sauté for a few minutes, or until they start to soften.

Add beans, tomatoes, tomato paste and drained meat. Stir well. Add 1-2 cups of water, depending on how thick you want the chili. Once mixture comes to a boil, lower heat to a simmer and cook for at least 30 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. Cover pot if chili is reducing too much. Taste chili and adjust seasonings to taste.

Serve with cheddar cheese and crackers or bread. Freezes and reheats well.

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