Saturday, June 9, 2012

Turkey-Black Bean Chili

Chili is a dish that can elicit strong opinions. I've seen notable sources claims that chili is 1) a preparation of meat and chilies that should not contain beans and 2) basically beans cooked with cumin. Whoa. Sounds like a smackdown in the making.

Regions play a role in defining chili. Texas chili, for example, is known to contain meat and chilies and nothing else, while Cincinnati chili includes cinnamon and chocolate and is often served over spaghetti.

I like mine with either ground beef or the lower-fat alternative of ground turkey. I also like lots of vegetables. Call it a chili stew if you like, but I don't care. It's really good.

I season my chili with a mixture of chipotle chili powder, cumin, dried oregano, seasoned salt and fresh-ground black pepper. For the sauce, I use tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and chicken broth. To impart a pleasing smokiness to the dish, I use a combination of liquid smoke flavor and smoked paprika, in addition to the chipotle chili powder, which is also smoky. Read between the lines and you'll see the flavors of barbecue sauce, and in fact years ago I used to make this chili with barbecue sauce and beer, although I've refined the recipe a bit since then. It's a pretty versatile dish, so feel free to play around to find flavors that suit you.

When sautéing the ingredients, I like to use a large oval sauté pan so I can set part of it over the heat and then move the ground meat off the heated area once its browned without having to take it out of the pan. It's a trick I learned years ago watching Rachel Ray, and I find it saves times.

Using a large oval sauté pan allows you move the meat to one side while sautéing the vegetables, rather than having to remove it from the pan. 

Yes, the ingredients list is long, but this is a forgiving recipe, so omit/adapt as you feel fit. And by the way, it's really good served with corn bread.

Turkey-Black Bean Chili

1 lb. ground turkey (thigh or white meat, may use ground beef instead)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 large sweet onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. seasoned salt (adjust to taste)
2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tbsp. fresh-ground black pepper (adjust to taste)
1/2 tsp. chipotle chili powder (or more if you like it spicier)
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 6-oz. can tomato paste
2 tbsp. worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. liquid smoke flavor
1 29-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz. can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
3/4 cup frozen corn kernels
2 cups chicken broth
shredded cheddar cheese

1. Heat a large sauté pan or dutch oven over medium heat. Brown ground meat and set aside or push to side of pan off heat. Drain off any rendered liquid (when using turkey, it produces a lot of water, and I find removing it before adding the vegetables makes them cook faster).

2. Add bell pepper, onion and garlic to pan. Sauté until softened. Stir with ground meat and add spices through brown sugar. Sauté a couple more minutes until vegetables take on a little color then add all of the rest of the ingredients through chicken broth. Cover pan, raise heat to medium-high until it bubbles. Stir well and then lower heat and simmer, covered about 10-15 minutes. Serve in bowls topped with shredded cheese.


  1. I would really like to make this. Is it really hot?? Guess I could use regular tomatoes... I have most of the ingredients. Will let you know, how it turns out.

  2. It's not very hot. The only ingredient with any heat is the chipotle chili powder, and I use a small amount (1/2 tsp.). If you used regular chili powder, it would be even milder (you could also omit it, if you're sensitive to spicy flavors). The fire-roasted tomatoes are the Muir Glen organic brand, which I have seen in the organic section of supermarkets like Safeway and Giant.

  3. Your chili is one of my very favorite dishes. I love when you make it. Also, hi Mom!