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A really great recipe is never finished. After reading about Endless Simmer’s impossible quest for recipe perfection, I began thinking about my own tried and true recipes and how I could revamp them.

The rain this week in the DC area has brought my mind to fall, and SOUPS, so the first place I turned to is the turkey chile recipe I’ve made for a few years now (courtesy by sister’s friend Robin). The combination of the beer, chocolate, and molasses makes it a great recipe in its own right, but yesterday night I found a way to make it even better, with an ingredient that should be in every chile recipe from now on: chiles!

The recipe below is the same as previous, but includes two types of dried chiles, although the types can vary depending on what you have around. Adding the chiles at the beginning made the broth both rich and smokey, and added a level of depth that the chili that reminded me of mole. While this recipe was never very spicy to begin with, there was now a nice bite at the end. I also threw in some bell peppers for good measure, which went well with the smokiness of the broth.

Turkey Chile

  • 2 strips bacon
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped into large pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 dried ancho chile, deseeded and diced
  • 1 dried New Mexico or California chile, deseeded and diced
  • 16 oz. package ground turkey
  • 2 T. chili powder
  • 1 T cumin
  • 2 t. paprika
  • 1 t. oregano
  • 1 t. cayenne pepper
  • 28 oz. crushed tomatoes
  • 14 oz. water
  • 12 oz. beer–amber or darker brew preferred
  • 1 c. frozen okra (optional)
  • 1/2 c. frozen corn (optional)
  • 2 T. molasses
  • 1 T. dark chocolate
  • Garnishes: cheddar cheese, sour cream, green onions, Fritos (if you don’t want to make corn bread), and bacon from the first step.

  1. In a dutch oven, cook two strips of bacon, cubed into small slices, and remove when cooked. Leave the bacon grease in the pot to use to cook the rest of the chili—the flavor you get out of it will really make this dish!
  2. Dice 1 medium onion and 2 cloves of garlic and add to pot. Saute 2-3 minutes. Add in dried chilies and bell peppers, saute until onions are translucent.
  3. Add in ground turkey-cook for 5 minutes (should only be partially cooked)–then add in your spices (more cayenne if you want a spicier finish) and then your beer, tomotoes, and water. Keep the mixture at a simmer for about an hour, adding more water as needed if the liquid level gets too low. 
  4. After an hour, add in your molasses, chocolate, and optional frozen veggies as needed.  Cook additional 10-15 minutes until chili thickens to your likening. Season with salt and pepper—garnish with cheese, bacon bits, sour cream. Serve with corn bread.
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