Turkey Chili


I think that a bowl of chili should taste like eating out of a cast iron dish, aside a crackling fire, in a John Ford western, with John Wayne. I have never made that bowl of chili. In Pennsylvania, when at a restaurant, chili is often sweet and made with hamburger. It’s a Sloppy Joe in a bowl with cumin. (I will have a Sloppy Joe correction in an upcoming post)

I have made so many pots of chili. I have steeped dried chiles in stock and pureed them to replace chili powders. I have taken handfuls of fresh chiles from summertime farmer’s markets and chopped them into a beautiful pile of a promised heat and a sweaty forehead. I have added chocolate, coffee, espresso, beer, bourbon, mushrooms, Worcestershire, fish sauce, or whatever other recipe addition someone swore themselves to on Serious Eats or America’s Test Kitchen.

A lot of those pots of chili were damn good. Some of them sucked hard. I think the worst one I ever made happened just a few weeks ago. It was a red bean and millet chili that was heavy on allspice and cloves. I swear to you – this substance was so utterly vile that upon encountering the smell of it, you would gag immediately and flee.

And then I made a pot of chili this morning and I finally made something like I have wanted to make for a very long time. This chili flies in the face of culinary consideration and advice. It is not Texas chili. It is not Cincinnati chili – and nothing should be ever. This is Kleiner chili. My blog. My rules.

So, let’s do this.

A pound and a half of ground turkey. (Yep. That’s right.)
A big sweet onion
A jalapeno pepper
A chipotle pepper
Ancho chili powder
New Mexico chili powder
Garlic powder
Smoked sweet paprika
Soy sauce
Kosher Salt
One of those little pepper grinders with the different peppercorns in it
Vegetable Stock
Coconut Oil
Dark Red Kidney Beans(1 can)
Light Red Kidney Beans (1 can)
Ro-Tel Diced tomatoes with lime and cilantro (1 can)
Tomato Paste
I have this jar of coconut oil that is entirely solid. I carved enough out that when heated, liquid oil thinly coated the bottom of my stockpot. It’s 5 quarts or 7 quarts or whatever. Use a pot big enough to contain all the ingredients. Coconut oil in. Mid-high heat on the high side. Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper on that meat square by the way. Oh, if you aren’t using kosher salt to cook and one of those little pepper grinders – burn your kitchen down and go to Applebees.

Place the ground meat square in the pan and don’t touch it for a couple of minutes. Then, take a spatula and stir that shit up and break it up and let it brown when you can and don’t let it burn and then it will be done. And then you will remove it from the pan and let it hang out in a bowl somewhere away from the cat.

Chop up the onion. Add more coconut oil shaving (or canola oil or olive oil [not EVOO] or whatever, I don’t care.) and let it heat up. Throw the onion in. Don’t touch it for a minute. Also, don’t let it burn so make sure you do not have the range set to immolate here. Chop up the jalapeno and the chipotle during this minute or so. When the onion is soft and it smells like cooked onions throw the two peppers in. Step back from the range or you will pepper spray yourself.  Give it a minute or 74 seconds. Then add the spices. Add the amount you want and a couple of twists from the cinnamon grinder (Oh you should own that too or probably follow the directions above about salt and pepper). I would say a couple of tablespoons of each is good. It is up to you but I think you should see enough spice powder in the pot that you think you made a mistake. Now stir the onions, peppers, and spices for a minute or so and then add a tablespoon and a half of tomato paste. Stir it around a bit to coat everything and then don’t touch it much until it looks rusty or almost orange-ish. Add the Ro-Tel tomato can, juice and all. Stir it all together and pour a couple of shots of soy sauce in there. The cooked turkey goes back in. Stir it up. The box of vegetable stock goes in. Stir it up. Turn the heat to high. Get it all boiling. Reduce to simmer. Go watch two episodes of “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”. (45 minutes if you think you are better than me)
After falling in love with Ellie Kemper, open the cans of beans. Dump them in there, liquid and all. Stir it up real good. Up to a boil, down to a simmer. Back to Kimmy Schmidt. This time 3 or 4 episodes. (Hour – Hour and a half) It should smell earthy and deep now like soil and spice and everything nice. It should smell warm. Like a John Ford campfire or maybe Ellie Kemper. Put it in a bowl and eat it. You can put stuff on it like cilantro, corn chips, or a little hot sauce or whatever really. Just don’t do any Cincinnati stuff. And no cheese. Cheese sucks. I ate mine with some multigrain bread. And I liked it. So there.

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