Chipotle Turkey Chili

To me, chili is a dish that doesn't really need a recipe.  You can put in a little bit of this and a little bit of that and you have chili.  Granted, the recipe below may not be a traditional chili, but if you start with the basics you can end up with a chili that is delicious with your own personal twist.

I typically start mine with a mirepoix.  That's fancy for celery, carrots and onions!  I start a lot of my soups and chilies (or is it chilis?  I'll go with chilies since the other way gets red squigglies underneath for being misspelled) this way because it is a great base and can be modified very easily.  Plus, it's a great way to get in some veggies and color into your meal.  The following is a recipe for a quick and simple chili that has a hint of sweetness and some nice heat.  As many chilies, this is better as leftovers because as the chili sits, the flavors tend to get a bit more concentrated and the spice is just right!

Many of the amounts can be adapted to your taste...  That is another great reason why chili is a great dish.  Okay, okay, I'll be honest.  I don't follow recipes when cooking.  Baking, yes but cooking, no.  So, I had to fudge the amounts of spices...  Actually, I had to make up the amounts for all the ingredients except for the turkey...  And that's only because the turkey came in a one pound package.  I guesstimated to the best of my ability and you absolutely can omit any of the spices or change the amounts.  Go for it - That's part of the fun when it comes to cooking.  Experiment away!

Chipotle Turkey Chili
Serves: 1 person for an entire week!

Canola or olive oil (I like to use a light oil since it's not a primary flavor in the chili - Save the extra virgin for salad dressing!)
1 lb. ground turkey breast (you can use chicken or beef too!)
2 medium carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, chopped
12 oz beer (amber ale works well)
3 chipotles in adobo, chopped (reserve some of the sauce to add as well)
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp smoked paprika
2-3 tsp chili powder
Salt & pepper (salt may not be needed as the recipe uses canned beans which tend to be a bit salty)
Large can crushed tomatoes
15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 can kidney beans
1 can garbanzo beans
1 can corn
Tomato paste (I used about 1/2 a tube)*
Chicken broth*
Secret ingredient: Chinese five spice (now it's not a secret!)


Heat a large, deep pot (I use my favorite Le Creuset dutch oven) on medium and add some oil to coat.  Once the pot is heated, add the turkey and brown.  Be sure to break up the meat while it cooks so there is plenty distributed throughout the chili.  Once the meat is almost cooked, add in the carrots, celery and onion.  Cook for about 10 minutes until the veggies are soft.

Pour in the beer and scrape the bottom of the pot to be sure and get all the brown bits from the turkey and veggies.  This is called deglazing.  Say it with me: deglazing.  Good class!  Let the mixture cook for a few minutes before adding the spices, chipotles, crushed and diced tomatoes, beans and corn.  Leave the tomato paste and broth for later.
Delicious grrrrrwoler of amber ale my friend Tara brought me from Vermont.

Now, I think I can trust you enough to tell you the secret ingredient that makes the chili a bit sweet.  What's that?  I already told you in the ingredient list.  Whoops!  Cat's out of the bag now!  Chinese five spice is one of my favorite spices.  It's a combination of cinnamon, star anise, cloves, pepper and fennel.  I think it adds a nice layer of flavor to the chili and compliments it nicely.

Once everything has been added to the pot, cover and simmer on low, stirring occasionally.  After finishing off the growler of beer about an hour you should be able to tell if you need to add the tomato paste or broth.  I added both the broth and tomato paste.  The main reason I added the broth was because I had about a 1/2 cup left over from another recipe and wanted to use it up before it went bad.  I ended up adding about 1/2 a tube of tomato paste and continued simmering the chili for another 30 minutes.

You can serve the chili the same day you make it, but I had purposely made mine the night before I wanted to eat it.  Like I mentioned earlier, chili just seems to taste better the next day.  I served mine with nonfat Greek yogurt and some reduced fat cheddar cheese.  I also served a slice of homemade cornbread alongside the chili.  Had I avocado on hand, I definitely would have diced some and put that bad boy on top of the chili with the yogurt and cheese!

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