Jan is on a soft food diet—nothing where she has to bite with her front teeth—and I have spent the last two weeks thinking up interesting foods that she can still eat. She decided that chili with small bits of vegetables and meat would fit the bill. Although I would prefer beef or pork chili, she has asked for ground turkey.
Turkey is a rather bland meat so I decided to spice it up with some chili powder. I mixed some of the chili powder and minced onions into the meat to marinate for half an hour. I then browned it in a large patty to get the flavor boost of the Maillard reaction—without turning all of the turkey into hard little pebbles of dried out meat.
Note: While making a good chili may be an all day affair, it does not have to be. A few tricks and short cuts will produce a decent chili in just an hour or two.
While many cooks swear by cooking their beans from scratch, America’s Test Kitchen has found that canned beans can actually be better. It is sometimes hard to tell how long dried beans have been on the shelf, whereas canned beans are usually processed fresh in the fields. They ran tests and recommend Goya as the best brand.
Jan felt she could not handle tortillas, so I decided that could make a soft cornbread pudding. I had thought to serve it on the side on the side. However, Jan had other ideas, she topped the chili with scoops of the cornbread and pushed it down into the chili to soften it further. If I make this dish again I might make the chili, transfer it to a casserole, and then bake the cornbread pudding on top as a chili pie.
Karl’s Quick Turkey Chili
8 oz. ground turkey
1 Tbs. Karl’s Turkey Chili Powder
¼ cup yellow onion, minced
½ tsp. Kosher salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
1-2 Poblano chilies
2 Tbs. corn oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 stalks, celery, diced
½ tsp. Kosher salt
(optional) sprigs of fresh cilantro
1. Put the turkey in a mixing bowl and add the chili powder, onions, salt, and pepper.
2. Mix the meat well and set it in the refrigerator to meld for half an hour.
3. Place the chilies on a lipped baking sheet and broil it for 10-15 minutes until black and blistered on all sides.
Note: While many cooks sear their chilies whole, I prefer to stem, halve the chilies lengthwise, and remove the seeds while they are still cold. Trying to remove the seeds from a hot slippery chile is not my fondest task. This technique also allows you to sear both sides of the chilies at the same time, saving energy.
4. Stem, skin, and seed the chilies and dice them into small pieces, reserve for later.
5. Form the meat into a single large patty.
6. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven, over medium high heat, and brown the turkey on both sides.
Tip: You want to get a good browning on both sides of the patty, but it is not important that you cook the meat all the way through.
7. Remove the meat to a plate to cool and add the onions, celery and salt to the pot.
8. Use the liquid released by the vegetables to deglaze the pot.
9. Sauté the vegetables until they are well browned, about 10-12 minutes.
10. Add the cilantro stems and continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes.
Tip: Many cooks use only the tender leaves of cilantro. The stems have a lot of flavor and is a great way to boost both the flavor and vegetables content of your dish.
11. Pull the vegetables to the sides of the pan and sauté the garlic in the hole in the center for one minute, until fragrant.
12. Add the chili powder and mix it into the vegetables.
13. Continue cooking until the spices have become fragrant.
Tip: Heating the spices will “bloom” their flavors.
14. Add the can of tomatoes and all of its liquid.
Tip: Use a bit of the beer to rinse out the can.
15. Simmer the mixture for another 4-5 minutes, until the tomatoes have started to darken.
16. Stir in the can of beans with all of its liquid and add the diced chillies.
Tip: Canned beans are packed with their cooking liquid. Do not lose the flavor and added starch that will thicken your chili. Rinse the can to recover the starch that settled at the bottom of the can.
17. Simmer the chili on low for 30-40 minutes to meld and thicken the chili.
Tip: If you are very hungry or impatient you may add a can (16 oz.) of refried beans. The starch of the mashed beans will thicken the chili in 4-5 minutes.
17. Chop the turkey patty into bite sized pieces and add it to the chili about 20 minutes before you are finished cooking.
18. Serve hot and you may garnish individual bowl with a sprig of cilantro.
Note: Jan topped her chili with the cornbread pudding.