Turkey and Black Bean Chili
Okay, here’s another chili recipe. I seem to be in a chili state of mind right now, and before I’m through, I may exhaust the forms of chili I create. My personal favorite is a Tex-Mex-style chili with no beans and shredded beef with beer and tequila and about five different kinds of peppers.
But that’s not what this one is about.
This here is chili my family likes to eat–the rest of my family is of the female persuasion, two-thirds of whom are under twelve. And while my incredible partner will on occasion partake of spicy food, she actually prefers to opt for flavor over heat. And, I learned years ago from my cooking mentor, a grisly, old Filipino chef of remarkable skills and talent beyond description, any fool can make food blazing hot. That takes no skill, only lots of hot peppers and an oversize ego. Only a great cook can make very hot food that tastes even better than it burns.
So with that in mind, here’s a chili that is gently spicy, but that my young daughters could still eat. After all, what’s the point of making food for dinner that no one will eat?
TURKEY AND BLACK BEAN CHILI
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1 1/2 pounds 93/7 ground turkey
6 cloves garlic, minced fine
2 medium sweet (like Vidalia) onions, chopped medium
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. ground cumin
2 Tbsp. Mexican oregano
2 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp fine-ground white pepper
8 oz. mild salsa
8 oz. medium salsa
1 bottle Mexican beer
4 oz. good tequila (NEVER, EVER USE CHEAP SPIRITS IN COOKING)
2 pounds skinned, diced tomatoes (I use fresh San Marzano tomatoes I grow and freeze. This equals 2 16-oz. cans)
4 1-pound cans black beans, one mashed completely to a paste.
1 4-ounce can diced green chiles
Fresh cilantro for garnish
1. Heat an enamel-coated heavy pot over medium-high heat about seven minutes, add half each oil, then
immediately add 4 cloves garlic. Stir until the garlic JUST begins to brown.
2. Add the turkey and saute until all the pink is gone, using a cooking spoon to chop the turkey to bits as it cooks.
Then drain the meat while you…
3. Add the rest of the oil and the onions. Reduce the heat to medium and saute the onions until they begin to
soften, about 5-6 minutes. Then add the chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and black and white pepper. Saute
another 3-4 minutes, incorporating the spices into the onions. Add back the ground meat and mix well.
4. Add the beer and the tequila to the pot, reduce the heat and simmer until the liquid is reduced by 2/3.
5. Add both salsas to the pot. Here is one place where you can adjust the heat more to your liking: If you like your
chili hotter, use all medium, or half medium/half hot, or all hot, or all mild, whichever you wish. It’s a good place
to adjust the heat without affecting the flavor. If you try to add cayenne pepper or hot sauce here, you’ll louse
up the flavor. Be careful at this point. Blend the ingredients well.
6. Add the tomatoes and the whole beans and simmer for 30 minutes. Then add the mashed beans, mix well and
simmer another 30 minutes.
Adjust your salt and pepper to taste. Garnish the chili in a serving bowl or crock with fresh-chopped cilantro.
Serve with bowls of salsa, chips, shredded cheese (pepper-jack is an excellent choice), sour cream, chopped
scallions, saltines, or any other garnish of your choice.
I find that placing bowls of different salsas on the table is an excellent way to give folks choices of heat in their
chili. It is my opinion that everyone’s taste in chili differs, and it serves a cook better to give his or her guests
a choice rather than imposing one level of heat to everyone. The point is to have people enjoy the taste of the
food, not to ooh and ahh your ability to burn their insides.