Slow Cooker Turkey Chili
A modifiable crock pot chili recipe
I always prefer a chili recipe with a higher proportion of meat, so this recipe goes much heaver in that department than most. Naturally, high quality ground beef can be substituted for the somewhat healthier turkey if preferred. The beans can be cooked in with the chili simultaneously, but I typically prefer to cook them separately for better doneness and quality as well as well as closer control of the overall soupiness of the chili.
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil or vegetable oil
- 6 oz tomato paste
- 6 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 tablespoon ground cumin
- 3/4 – 1.5 teaspoon cayenne pepper (depending on one’s tolerance for heat)
- 3 pounds ground turkey (preferably dark meat), (could substitute ground beef)
- 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
- ground pepper
- Two 28-ounce cans of (fire-roasted) diced tomatoes
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 medium to large onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 2 green peppers, diced
- 2 cups crushed corn tortilla chips
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 4 stalks of celery, finely diced
- 4 carrots, finely diced
Ingredients for pinto beans
- 3.5 cups of pinto beans
- 1/2 onion chopped
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1.5 teaspoon of bouillon (or 3 cups of chicken broth)
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
Optional ingredients for toppings and serving
- sliced scallions or 1/2 raw onion chopped
- shredded/grated sharp cheddar cheese
- sour cream
- chopped (pickled) jalapeno
- corn tortilla chips (or cornbread or white rice)
- Bring the pinto beans, onion, garlic, and bouillon in a large pot with an equal amount of salted water to a low boil. Then reduce the heat and cook on low for 3-4 hours until done. Add additional water if necessary during coooking, but don’t allow the beans to become too soupy. Stir regularly to prevent burning to the bottom of the pan.
- Put the tomatoes, celery, carrots, onions, peppers, cocoa powder, vinegar, oregano, garlic, crushed tortilla chips, and a teaspoon salt into a covered 6+ quart slow cooker over low heat for 6 hours.
- While the above are beginning to cook, heat the oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat with the tomato paste, chili powder, cumin and cayenne and cook for about 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly, until the mixture is dark red and dry in texture. Add the ground turkey, previously seasoned with 1 teaspoon salt, and cook while stirring and breaking up into smaller pieces, until mixture is thoroughly combined. (The turkey doesn’t need to be cooked all the way through but should ideally be browned for better maillard reaction and subsequent flavor).
- When the oil, paste, and turkey mixture is done, mix it in with the tomatoes, celery, carrots, et al, and finish cooking. Stir occasionally.
- As the turkey/vegetable portion and the beans are done, mix them together in equal measure, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve with scallions, cheddar, sour cream, and pickled jalapeno over tortilla chips. (One could also substitute cornbread or even rice for the tortilla chips for alternate variations.)
Optional cocoa powder may seem a bit out of place in most chilies, but it can serve two functions here: it adds some depth of flavor (without being chocolaty as one may expect) while simultaneously thickening the sauce in the chili.
The celery, carrots, onions, and peppers are all also optional: they can be used to enhance/modify taste, but also add to not only the overall heartiness, but make the dish more veggie friendly for children without detriment to flavor or presentation.
I suggest serving the chili on a bed of tortilla chips (which can also function as a makeshift spoon or eating implement), but it can also be great with cornbread or even served over rice as additional options.
Leftovers can be refrigerated or even frozen (for several weeks) if necessary.