Chili is classic cowboy food. During cattle drives, cowboys would pound together dried beef, fat, spices, and dried chile peppers into squares. They then would rehydrate these “chili bricks” on the trail with a pot of boiling water. Trail cooks even went so far as to plant onions, peppers, and spices along the way for future trail rides.
My turkey chili recipe would be laughed out of Texas if I brought this on the trail. However, this version is heart healthy by replacing the chuck beef with lean ground turkey and loaded with protein with the addition of kidney beans. Prepared salsa bought in the store will save you time from dicing tomatoes, peppers, and onions.
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1 28oz can red kidney beans, drained
- 2c salsa (16oz jar)
- 12oz beer (darker the better)
- 1/2c chicken stock
- 1/3c light brown sugar
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp chile powder (homemade is best)
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 chipotle peppers, minced (from 7oz can in adobo sauce)
1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Heat a large dutch oven or oven-safe skillet over medium high heat (7 on the dial). Add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Put turkey in dutch oven, season with salt, and cook until all traces of pink are gone. Drain fat.
2. Return turkey to dutch oven and turn heat to high. Put chicken stock, beer, salsa, and kidney beans into dutch oven and heat until beer begins to boil.
3. Add brown sugar, cumin, chile powder to chile mixture and stir to combine. Allow ingredients to cook until the liquid can be seen primarily on top.
Note: If you prefer smoky, spicy flavors, you could also add a couple minced chipotle peppers. Chipotle peppers are smoked jalapeno peppers and can be found canned in adobo sauce in the ethnic section of many supermarkets. You can also add the adobo sauce. The more you add, the hotter your chili will be.
4. Cover dutch oven and place in preheated oven for 1 hour. In the oven, starch will be released from the beans and thicken the liquid inside. If there is not enough liquid, the sides will begin to burn so you may want to check on the chili after 40 minutes. If the stew is dry, add another 1/2c of chicken stock.
5. Serve chile as is or top with cheese, raw onion, sour cream, or other condiments.