This meal, you guys. During the colder months, it’s not uncommon for this to make weekly appearances into our dinner rotation. It’s one of those recipes I can whip up in my sleep and it’s always comforting, reliable, and generally guilt free (generally…). It’s dairy-free, gluten-free, paleo, and Whole30-ish (barring you shop for appropriate sauces and ingredients that don’t contain sugar), and STILL SO SATISFYING. It’s the perfect recipe for your big ol’ cast iron Dutch oven like this Le Creuset. If you don’t have a cast iron pot of some sort, I would seriously encourage you to get one (although a plain old deep soup pot would work too). I see Le Creuset dishes all the time at Marshall’s and TJ Maxx, so your purchase doesn’t have to break the bank. My mom gets us a new piece of Le Creuset to add to our collections every Christmas, but plenty of other brands on the market would cook just as nicely. And a little money-saver tip for all of you wanting to establish your own collection of cast iron cookware, if you’re located in Northern Indiana/Eastern Illinois/Southwestern Michigan, there is a Le Creuset outlet in Michigan City, IN.
But let’s go back to that “generally guilt-free” clause I mentioned before. See, anything can have good intentions in the beginning. Because if you are a hardcore dairy-free/paleo/whole30/sinless dieter, you’ll want me to mention that the way I actually serve this dish is NOT any of those things. Delicious? Yes. Low carb? Sure! But like with any good chili recipe, it would be a crime against humanity to not add a dollop (or two) of sour cream and a healthy dose of cheddar cheese. Also, it should be served with some crumbly cornbread or tortilla chips or anything you have lying around that can soak up the soupy dregs. So we may have gone and bastardized a perfectly good diet dish here, but you use your own discretion with your condiments and trust you will not find any judgement from me.
The original recipe was found here and really needs no modification, though I have a few tips of my own after having prepared it roughly eleventy-million times over the last couple of years. Before we begin, let’s cover the basics. I love this recipe so much that I just keep the ingredients all on hand almost all the time. Ground turkey is a very common grocery list item in our household because I have to stay clear from a diet that is too dominant in red meats, and in an attempt to eat something other than chicken breasts for 14 meals a week, I throw in some ground turkey. (Other ground turkey recipes I enjoy can be found here and here). I will notate below how I fudge the recipe to make it on a whim when I may or may not have fresh ingredients.
- 20 oz 93% lean ground turkey (always keep a package in the freezer for just such an occasion)
- kosher salt, to taste
- 1/2 cup onion, chopped (I use red onion and use it liberally)
- 3 cloves garlic,
crushedminced (please… minced garlic from a jar is so gloriously convenient in some recipes that it cannot be overlooked – it is an unsung kitchen hero)
- 10 oz can Rotel mild tomatoes with green chilies (always keep on hand)
- 8 oz can tomato sauce (always keep on hand)
- 3/4 cup water (always keep on hand) (OK, now I’m just getting cheeky)
- 1/2 tsp cumin, or to taste
- 1/4 tsp chili powder
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1 bay leaf (I buy the dried bay leaves and keep them in my spice cabinet so they’re always handy)
- 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes (since the shelf life of sweet potatoes is so good and we use them so often, I usually have plenty on hand. Another kitchen hero in my book.)
- fresh cilantro, for garnish (OK, I’m not going to lie, I skip this entirely. Cilantro doesn’t really tickle my pickle so I don’t miss it one iota). (Also, garnishes are for restaurants and overachievers and I am neither of the above).
OK now let’s get cooking.
In a large skillet, brown turkey over medium-high heat, breaking it up as it cooks into smaller pieces and season with salt and cumin. Measurements, schmeasurements. Just sprinkle and hope for the best.
While meat is browning, get to chopping on your veggies. Dice the onions and throw those in with the garlic once the meat is browned. Add the can of Rotel tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, cumin, chili powder, paprika, salt and bay leaf. You will also add your diced sweet potatoes at this time, BUT WAIT! Here’s where the rubber meats the road. If your sweet potatoes are too big, they will take forever to cook through, and you may run the risk of serving undercooked sweet potato stew (speaking from experience). It will ruin the feast when you have to chew the potatoes. The smaller you chop the potatoes, the creamier your chili will get when the starches get all loosey goosey and create a nice, thick soupy texture. So trust me on the 1/2-inch cubes instruction and don’t cut corners here.
Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until potatoes are soft and cooked through, about 25 minutes stirring occasionally. OK wait. The recipe says 25 minutes, and while that may be true, this recipe borders on being a slow cooker, and the longer you can keep that pot simmering over low heat, the better your chili will be. I usually start this recipe at about 3:30 or 4:00 in the afternoon for a 5:30 dinner time. You don’t NEED to give yourself that much time, but if you’ve got it, then by all means, use it. This also makes it a great make-ahead meal. Make it when you have the time, stick it in the fridge in the pot and just reheat it when you’re getting ready for dinner.
Miracle of miracles, BOTH of my children ate this chili with minimal whining and bartering. For the kiddies, I throw in a half a grilled cheese sandwich and they are happy chili-eating chillins.
Happy Fall chili-eating! Please share if you have a fabulous chili recipe that the world needs to know about. After all, Fall turns into Winter and Winter is never ending, so we need some chili variety to warm our weary bones during those cold months!