By Jessica Roy It is bitterly, bone-chilling cold outside. It's so cold that my ears ring and cheeks sting, and the term "brain freeze" takes on new meaning. In that case, we need some hearty stick-to-your-bones comfort food, and to me that means a huge hot pot of chili.
The first documented recipe for chili dates all the way back to 16th-century Spain, and was traditionally made by boiling meat, tomatoes, chili peppers and salt. Here in America, some say our roots for the love of chili grew out of 1880s San Antonio, Texas, where the "Chili Queens" served up steaming bowls out of huge cauldrons in the town square. Later, this street chili was made a more permanent fixture in the form of food stalls in the public market place. These days, chili comes in all forms, from veggie varieties to meat-only bowls, to beans galore. My Turkey Chili recipe is a harmonious blending of a multitude of ingredients; all are welcome in the chili pot!
A few tips from my kitchen to yours come in the form of seasoning. Don't be afraid to season and taste, taste and season. Ground meat can handle a liberal amount of salt, and in fact needs it to leave some good flavor bits in the bottom of your pan to stir back into your stew. Also, after you've stirred in your spices, put a tasting spoon into the mix, and see what you think. Cooking is all about balance and adjustment, so if you think your stew needs a bit more kick, don't be afraid to add that special something. Chili is a great dish to experiment with as its heartiness can stand up to bold flavor.
3/4 lb ground turkey thigh meat
3/4 lb. ground turkey white meat
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 sweet potato, peeled & diced
1 turnip, peeled & diced
1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced
14 oz. red kidney beans (canned or dried)
14 oz. pinto beans (canned or dried)
14 oz. navy beans (canned or dried)
14 oz. corn (canned, frozen or fresh)
14 oz. can diced tomatoes
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 Tbs. cumin
1 Tbs. chili powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground coriander
2 Tbs. brown sugar
Salt, as needed
Pepper, to taste
Olive oil, as needed
1. In a large soup pot over medium heat, add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Sweat garlic and onion until translucent, but do not brown.
2. Add the ground meat to the pan, and allow to brown. Salt the meat liberally to season.
2. Add sweet potato, poblano pepper, beans, corn, turnip and sweet potato. Stir in all spices, mix thoroughly so that all ingredients are coated.
3. Add tomatoes. Refill large can twice with water and add to pot.
4. Stir in sugar. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook for one hour before serving. If liquid reduces too much, just add a bit more water. Taste and season with salt and pepper to your liking.
Jessica Roy is a private chef, specialty caterer and author of foodie blog, Shiso Fresh. Follow her at http://blogs.lowellsun.com/ yourpersonalchef.