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Thursday, April 10, 2008

"Proper" Chili: Shh, there's turkey and veg in it!



If you are someplace cold and dreary, chances are that tasty bowl just got your attention. But it might surprise you to know that meaty bowl of chili is actually quite good for you. In general I am not a fan of "sneaking" things into food. I might even go so far as to say I am categorically opposed to it. But now that I have been so unequivocal about my objections to trying to sneak healthy bits in where they "don't belong," let me equivocate a bit. I have to admit I love this style of chili, and was totally surprised to discover it had all sorts of vegetable goodness in it.

While in Ghana I went to a movie night with a bunch of other women. Before settling in, we had a great potluck supper of chili and corn bread. When I saw the chili, the first words out of my mouth were, "Wow. That is proper chili." I had been spending too much time around British folks, but it really was proper. I was gazing down at a steamy pot of what appeared to be nothing but meat and beans. As I stood there, gently salivating, another woman walked up to the pot and had the same response, "That is really proper chili!" and a third woman chimed in, "Yeah, its nothing but meat and beans!" and at that point, the woman who brought the chili started laughing. She explained to us that actually this so-called proper chili had all sorts of healthy bits snuck into it.

I was floored.

Perhaps I needed to slightly rethink my position on not sneaking things. Well, what I have decided is that if it tastes great, is healthy for you, and does not transgress some sort of unholy divide (unholy divide = diet soda in a chocolate cake), then perhaps it is okay.

I never got her recipe, but I got her basic idea. So I came home and experimented with my own so-called "proper" chili. And so here I am, reveling in the chilly, rainy, Chicago afternoon. After months of the tropics, it is glorious to wear jeans and a sweater and sit down to a steamy bowl of "proper" chili for lunch.


Go ahead, look up close. Can you even see the healthy bits?

Ingredients

Makes approximately 12 cups

8 ounces (1 large) yellow or red onion, diced

*adding cumin to a turkey dish is a great way to make it taste more "beefy." Star anise is another seasoning that can enhance the meatiness of dishes.

**quinoa is a vegetable source of a complete protein. It is an excellent and healthy way to add protein to soups. It is available at Whole Foods and many health stores. It is also increasingly available at regular grocers. If you cannot find it, feel free to omit it.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound extra lean ground turkey
9 ounces cabbage (approx half small head)
1/2 red or yellow sweet pepper
1.5 teaspoons salt
45 ounces fresh tomatoes (3 cans)
1.5 tablespoons oregano
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 tsp dried chiptole pepper flakes
1.5 tablespoons cumin*
2 jalapenos
1/4 cup quinoa**
15 ounces pinto beans
15 ounces kidney beans
1/2 cup beer


Dice the onion, cook it in the oil until softened. Once it begins to be translucent, add the turkey to brown.

While the turkey is browning, finely shred the cabbage and sweet peppers. The finer the shred, the more they will "disappear" into the chili. In my dish, pictured here, I didn't shred too finely, so you still get a bit of the hunky vegetable-ness. Add the shredded cabbage and peppers. Stir. Cook to soften, approximately 5 minutes.

Discard the seeds and finely dice the jalapenos. I like to rub my fingers in a little oil to keep the spicy oils from the pepper from adhering to my hands.

Add everything else, except the beer and the beans. Allow to cook on medium low for approximately 15-20 minutes. If you are in a hurry this isn't strictly necessary, but part of the secret of good chili is in the co-mingling of flavors.

Taste. Adjust seasonings to your taste preference.

Add the beans about 15-20 minutes before serving. Homemade beans are delicious in this recipe, but of course canned are always convenient. If you use canned, be sure to rinse the beans. You want to add the beans towards the end so they do not become too soft and break apart or turn to mush. If they are in for about 15-20 minutes it still allows them to soak in some of the chili flavor and contribute their own beany creaminess to the dish.

Add the beer and freshly ground pepper just before serving. Stir.

Garnish with Greek yogurt or sour cream, sharp cheddar or Cheshire cheese, and green onions.



With all that sneaky vegetable goodness, I think this chili is a perfect candidate for Weekend Herb Blogging. I'm sending it over to Jugalbandi who are hosting this week.

Nutritional Information (without garnishes), per 1-cup serving: 345 calories, 3.3 g fat, 13.8 g fiber, 26.5 g protein

12 comments:

Philip said...

This looks great! But it needs some cayenne pepper in it. The only two ingredients that I would've thought out of place were the cabbage and the quinoa.

Chili is a lot like gumbo or jambalaya. It's not a recipe, it's a way of life.

Erin said...

Eek! Great catch Phillip. I had accidentally omitted the 1/2 tsp of dried chipotle pepper flakes. I fixed the recipe now. I prefer dried chipotles and fresh jalapenos to using cayenne, but cayenne is definitely an option for heat.

And depending on how hot you like it, you can really crank up the peppers used. My husband has issues with too-hot foods, so I toned it down a bit here.

Thanks for the catch, and I've updated the recipe.

Astra Libris said...

Thank you so much for visiting my blog! I'm delighted! :-)

I love love love all the scrumptious additions to this chili - especially the quinoa! Wow! I cannot wait to try this recipe!

bee said...

what a flavourful way to cook veggies!! thanks for your entry.

Becky said...

That looks delish! I am definitely going to have to try that soon! Chili is a monthly meal here!

Erin said...

Astra-I keep quinoa on hand because I like to throw it into most of my soups. It is particularly good in chicken tortilla soup as well (its one of my favorites, and I'm sure it will make its way onto this site sooner or later).

Bee, definitely a great way to get your veggies and fiber in without a fuss.

Becky, I hope this one finds its way into your family rotation. Definitely a good way to get your kids to get their greens, and warms you up through all this rainy weather.

Kalyn said...

Quinoa is something I wouldn't have thought of using in chili. Sounds good though!

Hillary said...

I love ground turkey, and it sounds like it would be in fabulous in chili. Thanks for sharing - glad I discovered your site!

Anonymous said...

Do you have a carb count for this recipe?

Anonymous said...

Like you, I try to use all leftovers and often experiment with them. I had leftover steamed (actually microwaved) cauliflower this week. I tried to make something like a potato pancake - as best I could remember how my mom did it. I ground the cauli in my small processor, added eggs and cheese and fried in a bit of olive oil. The batter was too runny; it didn't set properly in the middle and too done on one side. I'm doing a low-carb diet - id there any way to thicken other than flour?

Erin @ The Skinny Gourmet said...

Anonymous: I will have a full nutrition label posted for this recipe by this afternoon, so check back then!

As for thickening, a common trick for those on low carb diets is to pulverize some almonds into almond flour using a food processor and use that to thicken. it wont have the same thickening properties (chemically) that flour does, but it will thicken something like your cauliflower pancake. also, if you err on the side of less al dente in your prior cooking method and/or use a roasting (less water) instead of steaming method, that should cut down on the native water content and help with thickness as well.

hope that helps1

Anonymous said...

I've been searching for the one chili recipe I would make over and over again. My search ends here! I love the texture and flavor. Thank you!

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