November 4, 2013

Turkey and White Bean Chili

I have a confession to make.  I don’t really follow recipes accurately.  I get so anxious to start cooking that I forget to set up my mis en place, meaning I don’t prep all the ingredients I need so that they’re within reach.  This leads to overheated oil in the pan, oddly shaped vegetable pieces, burnt rice, undercooked onions, over-seasoned food and missing ingredients.  I think my hastiness stems from my over-excitement at finally finding some time to cook the dish I’ve been thinking about all week.  What you see here is my third attempt at Martha Stewart’s Turkey and White Bean Chili.  

The first time I made it was for a friend with a brand new baby and no time to cook.  In my nervousness over getting it just right, I forgot to buy enough ingredients and added way too much chicken stock making it more of a soup than a stew.  The next time I made it,  I was so looking forward to getting it right the second time around, that I forgot to buy the tomato paste and used sriracha hot sauce as a substitute.  Unfortunately, it didn’t add color and thickness like tomato paste does, and on top of the two seed-filled jalapenos I put in the chili, it was brimming with fiery heat.  

Alan took one bite and almost coughed it into the sink.  Perhaps I failed to tell him how spicy it was.  Luckily, my spice tolerance is high enough that I was able to eat some of the chili for dinner, not without a box of tissues.  My third time was a charm.  I still didn’t follow Martha’s recipe exactly, but this attempt came out creamy and balanced.  I added garlic and an extra tablespoon of tomato paste for extra color and depth.  

Turkey and White Bean Chili is packed with protein and makes a great lunch or dinner.  Serve it over rice or in a taco shell if you’re craving carbs.  The topping options are limitless; cheddar or cotija cheese, pickled or fresh jalapenos, cilantro, parsley, sour cream, lettuce, sliced radish, avocado, diced tomato and a squeeze of lime.  Don’t forget a dash of Cholula Original hot sauce, my favorite.

RECIPE (adapted from

Makes 4 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground turkey
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 large onion, chopped
2 jalapenos, diced (seeded for milder taste)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cans (15 ounces each) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
14 ounces low-sodium chicken broth
Sour cream, cilantro, diced tomato, cheese and other toppings (optional)

1.  In a very large, deep skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground turkey; season it with salt and pepper. Cook, breaking up turkey with spoon, until browned, 9 minutes (if you notice liquid pooling in the pan, pour most of it off to encourage the turkey to should hear the slight sizzle of the mostly dry pan).  

2.  Add the onion, jalapenos and garlic and cook until soft, about 3 minutes.

3.  Stir in the cumin and tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes.

4.  Add the cannellini beans and chicken broth, bringing the broth to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the chili is thick, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Garnish with whatever toppings you've chosen.

NOTE: When heating up leftovers, add a splash of chicken stock or water to the pot or pan to loosen up the chili as it heats up.

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