Chili is a dish I have recently revisited. As a Chef you spend most of your waking hours in a professional kitchen dreaming up innovative, new dishes. Testing out new products, curating ingredients, perfecting techniques. It is easy to overlook certain comfort foods. Its not that we write them off, but when things feel dated you tend to avoid them. But often times, innovation is in fact inspired by history and memories. To embrace the food we grow up eating and to create a well balanced homage using current techniques and good ingredients, that is when a Chef can really shine.
Chili takes me West. Where I grew up, and often a place I long for. It takes me to imaginary desert vistas, cattle drives, and campfires. Chili is an icon of the American West but its roots clearly lie somewhere further south. At its most basic incarnation it is meat cooked down in chiles, onions, and garlic. This is the start of many iconic Mexican dishes. Its personality morphs as you travel through the American Southwest and no other states claims it quite so triumphantly as Texas. You like beans in your chili? Well Texans do not. Head over to New Mexico and it will be easy to find that deep ruddy red you know so well to be replaced by green, thanks to the popular local hatch chile. In a bowl or on a pile of fries, at its core its comfort food and one I love.
The recipe below is a great starter chili, designed for the home cook. I like to dress up a bowl with a pile of cheese, sour cream, and corn bread. This dish is ever interchangeable. Pick your protein: beef, lamb, pork, goat, turkey, or beans. Add more heat or throw in a few different chile powders: chipotle morita, arbol, dried jalapeno. This recipe is designed to resemble the chili’s of my childhood and as it should be, in creating this recipe I am inspired to find a way to make chili into my next great restaurant dish.
Yields about 5 quarts
4 tablespoons canola oil
2 pounds organic ground turkey
1 onion small dice
4 cloves garlic minced, around 2 tablespoons
2 jalapenos, deseeded and small dice, around 1/4 cup
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 chipotles in adobo, minced
1 tablespoon of adobo sauce (from the canned chipotles)
4 teaspoons salt
¾ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoon Chimayo*
1 28 oz can small dice tomatoes
1 cup of beer, dos equis amber
4 cups of chicken stock
4 cups cooked black beans
In a heavy bottom large pot heat 3 tablespoon of canola oil over medium heat. Add in the ground turkey. Cook until lightly browned, around 6 minutes. Remove the turkey from the pot and set aside. Add in your remaining 1 tablespoon of canola oil. Heat pot over low heat. Add in onion, garlic, and jalapeno. Sweat down until the onion is translucent, around 5 minutes. Turn up the heat to medium. Add in tomato paste, cumin, sweet paprika, oregano, Chimayo, chipotles, and adobo sauce. Sauté for one minute, stirring to coat the vegetables in the tomato paste. Add in beer and stir. Simmer for 2 minutes. Add in canned tomatoes, cooked turkey, black beans, and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and reduce to low heat. Cook for one hour uncovered. Set aside or serve immediately topped with scallions, sharp cheddar, sour cream, and corn bread.
* Chimayo is a chile variety popular in New Mexico, and I was the recent recipient of a cup of this delicious chile powder. If you can not get your hands on any, feel free to sub out with your favorite. To learn more about Chimayo check out the link below.