Last weekend at the ski hill it was -30 degrees Celsius, or rather it was chili weather. Sadly, I was out of chili, so I spent all day today making some. Now the forecast for the weekend is going to be pleasantly warm. At least I’m stocked up and prepared, because it is sure to return. This is Canada right?
What makes a chili great for me is the spice. Chili should definitely not taste tomatoey. It’s about layering on the flavours. Smokiness from the paprika and cumin, a bit of bitterness from the chocolate and chillies, followed by a nice warming sensation in the back of your mouth from heat.
I like to add chocolate to my turkey chili for a couple reasons. One, it adds a richness that helps disguise the fact that you are using a lean meat. And two, it makes the chili appear darker, which tricks your brain (or husband) into thinking it is a hearty beef chili. I have no idea what my husband has against turkey, but he always gives me the gears when I suggest it, even though he loves it in the end.
Cooking chili for a long time makes a huge difference. Not only does it intensify the flavours, but it helps soften the meat. What happens when you brown the meat is you draw out all of the water and caramelize it, adding flavour. Then you need to add the moisture back into the meat, which is your tomato sauce and spices, again adding more flavour. When your chili is cooked long enough everything comes together as one. There are no rogue players fighting to be a star.
One thing I’d like to note is, if you use a crockpot, brown your meat first. You won’t create the same flavour or texture if you skip this step. It takes 10 minutes and is definitely worth it!
Spicy Turkey Chipotle Chili (makes about3 L) takes 2-4 hours, depending on how long you have to simmer it.
- 3 packs of ground turkey, about 3lbs, or meat of your choice
- 4 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 green peppers, diced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 680ml tomato sauce
- 1 jalapeno, chopped
- 4 chipotle peppers (canned) chopped
- 540ml black beans, rinsed well
- 1 Tablespoon Better Than Bouillon Chicken paste
- 4 Tablespoons chili powder
- 3 tsp hot smoked paprika (Iprefer the brand in picture above)
- 1 tsp ground cumin, I like to grind it myself
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp garlic salt
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- 1 tsp pepper
- 4 squares of dark chocolate 70%, I used Lindt
- salt to taste at the end, I used about 1 tsp, but tomato sauces differ in sodium
- sour cream, cheese, green onions and pickled jalapeños, for serving
Heat a heavy bottom pot on medium high heat. Add turkey, let it brown and try not to stir it too much or it will get too broken up. Dice onions, prepare spices and open tomato sauce in the meantime. When meat is brown, turn heat down to medium and add the spices. Toasting will bring out the flavour, just do not burn them. Stir for 3 minutes. Add tomato sauce and cook for 5 minutes. This step helps caramelize the tomatoes and add bit of sweetness to counterbalance the bitterness from the chillies. Rinse the can out with water and add to the chili. Add onions, jalapeños, chipotles, chocolate, chicken paste and green peppers. Stir and reduce heat to a simmer. Stir occasionally. At this point, it’s up to you how long you let it simmer. The longer the better. You will have to add a bit more water if you do. I let mine simmer almost 3 hours and added about 3/4 cup of water. Just don’t forget to add the beans. I like to put mine in about 30 minutes before serving, so they don’t get too soft and fall apart. Top with all your favourites and serve with tortilla chips.