Though we’ve never been shy about professing our undying affection for chili, it’s not without its dangers, namely soaring sodium counts and reliance on fatty ground beef. Go lean by using ground turkey and build flavor with spices, beer, and a bit of chocolate.
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1⁄2 tsp dried oregano
1⁄4 cup chili powder
1⁄8 tsp ground cinnamon
2 bay leaves
2 lb lean ground turkey
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 piece (1 oz) dark chocolate or 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 bottle or can (12 oz) dark beer
1 Tbsp chopped chipotle pepper
1 can (28 oz) whole peeled tomatoes
1 can (14oz) white beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14 oz) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
Salt and black pepper to taste
Hot sauce or cayenne (optional) to taste
Raw onions, shredded cheese, chopped scallions, lime wedges, sour cream (optional)
How to Make it
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the cumin, oregano, chili powder, cinnamon, and bay leaves and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until the spices are very fragrant.
Add the turkey and tomato paste and stir with a wooden spoon until the turkey is no longer pink. Add the chocolate, beer, chipotle, and tomatoes, squeezing each tomato between your fingers so that it’s still chunky but not whole. Turn down the heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
Add the beans and season with salt and pepper. Taste; if you like your chili hotter, add your favorite hot sauce or a few pinches of cayenne. Cook until the beans are hot. Serve topped with your choice of garnishes.
MASTER THE TECHNIQUE
Make your own chili powder
What sets competition chili cooks apart from each other isn’t meat or beans (almost all of them use chuck and onions and little else), it’s the spices. Premade chili powder is great in a pinch, but the fresh stuff is infinitely better. Buy a mix of dried chiles from a Mexican grocer (anchos are mild and fruity, New Mexican chiles are earthy, and chiles de arbol are fiery hot), remove the stems and seeds, toast the peppers briefly in a dry skillet, then grind into powder in a coffee grinder. Your next batch is guaranteed to be competition quality.