Recipe: Red Turkey Chili

Last night was windy, cold, and rainy here in Maryland, so my first impulse was to make chili.  This dish is one of my favorite things to make, especially in the fall and winter, because I can change out the recipe so easily.  I’ve made it many different ways, but last night’s was a much healthier rendition that still warmed us up nicely.  See if you and your family notice a difference if you try this version!

I started by heating a large stock pot on the stove and dropped in one diced onion with some olive oil. Once the onion was translucent, I added one package of ground turkey and took some time to let it all brown thoroughly.  To add a bit of smokiness to the finished product, I added a bit of bacon that I pulled from the freezer and gave that some time to cook. RedTurkeyChiliNOTE:  I had previously taken a one-pound package of bacon and sliced it into 8 portions.  Each portion went into a small freezer bag and I use a portion any time I want a little bacon flavor without having to thaw or cook an entire package.  I diced this portion so the bacon wasn’t discernible, but the flavor permeated the chili nicely.

I then added about a cup of diced sweet pepper (as you can see, I used a variety of green, red, orange, and yellow peppers) as well as a generous pour of red wine.  NOTE:  For this recipe, I had a bottle of red wine from Adams County, PA, but any good dry red wine is great to add, provided it’s a red wine that you like to drink.  Don’t ever add wine that you wouldn’t drink to a recipe, since cooking will concentrate the flavors from the wine.  

Once the vegetables and wine are incorporated into the chili, I then added one can each of light and dark red kidney beans (rinsed and drained) and one can of diced tomatoes (not drained).  I was now ready to add my spices to make this dinner into something memorable.

Since my family is not a fan of hot/spicy flavors, I used a conservative amount of dark chili powder, ground cumin, and smoked paprikaone teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa powder, along with some salt and pepper.   At the very end, I drizzled in a bit of a prepared Balsamic Glaze, which really gave this dish a bit of zing without overpowering the traditional chili flavors.

I do hope that you’ll try your hand at this chili recipe.  Feel free to substitute other meats, beans, or vegetables as you like – that’s what makes each person’s recipe unique and special.  We thought this version had a great balanced flavor… exactly what I wanted on a cold, rainy fall evening.  This would be a great dish to share with friends and will freeze nicely, so feel free to double or even triple the recipe if you have the time (and freezer space)!

Recipe: Petit Venison Chili

I confess…. I was a slacker over Christmas break and didn’t post any new recipes.  I made a few fun things that I’ll post ASAP, but spending time with my kids ended up taking precedence.   Since the winery has a Chili Cook-off coming up this weekend, I had chili on my mind when it was so rainy yesterday, so this recipe just came together for me.  As with all my recipes, I used “The Force” with regards to the amounts of spices and such, but this is a fairly standard way for me to make chili.  I do alter the meats, types of beans, and amounts of spices at times, but this is a workable recipe to use as a jumping off point if you have never made chili before.

PetitVenisonChili

I start with 2 onions, 2 spoons of garlic, and 1 large green pepper, diced well.  I saute them in a little bit of olive oil until they got slightly toasty and then added one pound of ground venison.  (Note:  I got the venison from a friend… I would have used a package of ground turkey if I hadn’t had the venison to use.)  Once the venison is thoroughly cooked, I add 1/2 cup of James River Cellars’ Petit Verdot red wine.  This wine is smoky and deep… a great pairing with the lean game meat in this dish.  Take your time here…. you want to allow time for the wine to be totally absorbed by the meat and vegetables before moving forward in the recipe.

Once the wine is totally incorporated, you can add the tomato/bean side of the chili.  I use one 28-oz can crushed tomatoes and four 15-oz cans of beans, undrained. For this recipe, I used one can each of pinto, light kidney, dark kidney, and white cannellini beans. I also like to add one 6-oz can tomato paste to thicken the chili.

Once your beans and tomato products are incorporated into your chili, it’s time to think about spices and seasonings.  I like to add a variation of spices… typically a blending of salt, garlic salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, paprika, cinnamon, parsley, and a touch of honey or a little sugar.  I used varying amounts of these spices, tasting the chili after incorporating each flavor until it all meshed well and tasted the way my family likes.

I know many people who like to add chipotle seasonings, hot sauce, or spicy peppers, but since my family isn’t fond of too much heat, this is the way we like our chili to taste.  There are a multitude of “official” recipes for chili – some have specific ingredients while others simply give you generic ideas of what “should” be used.  Lots of people also have accompaniments that they like to have with their chili… corn muffins, cornbread, saltines, spaghetti noodles, cheese, onions… the list can be endless.    No matter what you use, or how you make it, enjoy the process of making chili for your own family.  What you choose to use in your chili is completely appropriate – as long as it’s what you and your family enjoy, that’s all that matters, right?

Happy Cooking!

 

 

Recipe: Cabernet Franc Chili

Cab Franc ChiliThere’s something wonderful about having Chili on a cold winter’s day that just makes me feel warm inside.  The intoxicating smell of a simmering blend of onion, garlic, and green pepper gets me in the mood for a crackling fire, snow on the ground, and a big pot of chili.

Since I live in Virginia, “snow on the ground” typically isn’t going to happen very often, but once the temperature dips into the lower 40’s, I’m ready to start going through my winter repertoire and cooking up some wonderful hearty dinners.  This recipe is basic and allows for anyone to alter ingredients to suit their own particular tastes.  Here’s the general starting point:

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 1 package ground turkey
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped
  • 2 small (or 1 large) onion, chopped
  • Crushed garlic, to taste
  • 1 cup Cabernet Franc
  • ½ small can tomato paste
  • 1 Large can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (with or without spices)
  • 1 can light kidney beans
  • 1 can dark kidney beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can cannellini beans (white beans)
  • Chili powder
  • Cumin
  • Salt/pepper

Brown the ground turkey in olive oil, using a large stock pot.  Add green pepper, onions, and garlic, sauteeing until vegetables are softened.  Add wine and tomato paste and cook until liquid is absorbed.  Add canned tomatoes and beans (I don’t drain or rinse my beans).  If desired, mash one of the cans of beans prior to adding, to thicken the chili.  Cook to warm everything thoroughly.  Add spices to taste.  If chili is still too thin, add remaining half can of tomato paste.

This is my most basic recipe.  If you want to make it hot, feel free to add some cayenne pepper… if you want it to be sweeter, feel free to add some honey or sugar.  This is a flexible recipe, so feel free to make it your own by adding or subtracting items as you see fit.

That’s the beauty of cooking… enjoy the process and revel in your results.