Wow that’s a huge statement! Outrageously good! I don’t throw words around like that, you’re going to want to read on. If I called it Turkey chili you would keep scrolling. Almost everyone I know has made or has at least tasted turkey chili. But, this turkey chili is in a whole different league. It’s outrageously good! So what makes this so good? Chili is chili right? Nope, keep reading.
We live in a wonderful neighborhood with an active social committee that organizes many family events. Every year there are concerts in the park, fishing contests, an Easter egg hunt, neighborhood Halloween pizza party, a progressive dinner and a wild four day July 4th celebration just to name a few events. Every fall crock pots come out for the annual chili cook off. The year I was asked to be one of the lucky tasters to Judge this contest I think there were about 30 or more entries. We tasted every kind of chili. The add ins were creative; white chili, red chili, chocolate, vinegar, whiskey, beer, every kind of pepper and more. Judging that cook off was great fun but I have to admit, after that night I didn’t eat chili for a very long time. My chili hiatus didn’t last though. Chili is back in our dinner rotation especially this time of year as the days get shorter and cooler.
The beauty of chili is that anything goes. It’s a blank canvas that allows you to be creative and adapt the dish to your preferences. The basic recipe starts with meat, tomatoes and beans with chili pepper. My family agrees that after 20+ years of chili experiments, THIS is the very best chili I have ever made.
It starts with lean ground turkey. Because turkey has less flavor than ground beef I like to add a variety of beans and veggies. Today I added onions, corn, garbanzo beans (or chick peas), black beans and red pepper but sometimes I add zucchini, carrots, sweet potatoes. Get crazy and make this recipe your way. I recommend making it the first time EXACTLY as it is here because these flavors work together so well. Then next time add or subtract to make it your own.
My three secret ingredients have made all the difference. Port, enchilada sauce and cream cheese, crazy right!!? Also, little things like the combination of both yellow and red onion makes a subtle difference. I think there’s maybe a fourth element that matters to this recipe… Just before I started making this chili my son had made a big cast iron skillet full of bacon for the family for breakfast. The skillet was on the stove with the hot bacon renderings in it. I decided to brown the turkey in this skillet, in the bacon fat, then I added the cooked turkey to the pot as the recipe calls for. I think every level of flavor matters so this may be an important step. You be the judge.
Many turkey chili recipes call for chicken broth (that seems odd to me, or just boring) so I decided to replace the chicken broth with Tawny Port. Seriously awesome addition!!! Truth is it was sitting on the kitchen counter and I decided to add it impulsively. That’s usually how I roll when I’m cooking. It worked wonderfully. The port added a sweetness and complexity to the overall flavor. Don’t worry, the alcohol will cook off so it’s safe to feed your little ones.
My second secret ingredient is mild enchilada sauce. Just pour in one small can. It just works! Try it and you’ll see.
Lastly, cream cheese adds a slight creaminess and a tang that rounds off the spices beautifully. It may seem like a crazy mixed bag of ingredients but it works and the pot emptied quickly. My favorite way to eat it is topped with fresh avocado, a dollop of sour cream and a small squeeze of lime.
Outrageously Good Turkey Vegetable Chili
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/2 sweet yellow onion, chopped
- 1/2 red onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 pound extra lean ground turkey or chicken (99%)
- 4 tablespoons chili powder (or to taste)
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon chipotle pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- 2 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 cup tawny port
- 1 small can of mild enchilada sauce
- 1/2 brick (4 oz) Philadelphia cream cheese softened and room temperature
- 1 (15 oz) cans dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 (15 oz) can sweet corn, rinsed and drained
- 1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 (15 oz) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
Optional toppings: cheese, avocado, lime, tortilla chips, cilantro, sour cream
- Place oil in a large pot and place over medium high heat. Add in onion, garlic and red pepper and sauté for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Next add in ground turkey and break up the meat; cooking until no longer pink. See NOTE* below.
- Next add in chili powder, cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper, chipotle pepper, and salt; stir for about 20 seconds.
- Next add in tomatoes, port, kidney beans and corn. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes or until chili thickens and flavors come together.
- Just before serving whisk the the softened cream cheese into the chili. Stir to fully incorporate. Taste and adjust seasonings and salt as necessary. Garnish as desired.
NOTE* Just before I started making this chili my son had made a big cast iron skillet full of bacon for the family for breakfast. The skillet was on the stove with the hot bacon renderings in it. I decided to brown the turkey in this skillet, in the bacon fat, then I added the cooked turkey to the pot instead of browning it in the pot with the onions. I think every level of flavor matters so this may be an important step. You be the judge.
To make this recipe in the slow cooker: Brown the turkey and onions before adding to the slow cooker. This is a great tailgating or football party recipe! Enjoy!