Hearty turkey chili please

Last time I made turkey chili, it was nor memorable. I don’t know if you could call it dry, but kInda grainy. Not very interesting texture.

I don’t want something over complicated. Thick, spicy hot, and don’t hold back the fat. I used red kidney beans before. Probably go with pinto this time, If I use beans, that it.

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I start off with the Pierre Franey recipe in the NY Times. I use ground turkey that is 85/15. It is so easy to adjust ingredients to your taste. To that extent, I always hold back at first and don’t put in the full amount of anything so I can always adjust. Especially any liquid. Use whatever kinds of bean(s) you want!

All chili needs some fat IMO. As for seasoning, I do it in thirds - one third at the beginning, one third in the middle, and the final third right at the end, with any adjustments as necessary. I have no way of objectively testing this method; it just seems as if the different layers of seasoning are more flavorful this way.

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I made this years ago with leftover Thanksgiving turkey, and it’s the only way I make it now.

**Sauteed chopped onions, red bell pepper, and minced garlic, added some chili powder and cumin, continued saute.

Added 2 cans of kidney beans, some canned chopped tomatoes, tomato sauce, 3 cups of leftover T’giving chopped turkey, some chicken stock.

Finally, added about 1-1/2 cups of mashed cooked sweet potatoes blended with maple syrup, ground ginger, s/p, and a smidge of heavy cream to use as a thickener.

Simmer, simmer, simmer, seasoned with dried oregano and some more salt & pepper.**


If you enjoy black beans, maybe that would help? The rich color of the beans helps with visual appeal, because to me turkey chili can appear pale.

Also layering different types of chiles adds richness to the flavor profile. I enjoy using at least two: one for smokiness like chipotle (powder is fine) and another for heat (such as fresh poblanos, either roasted/peeled or sautéed). Judiciously, so as not to overachieve on the overall heat level. Let’s just say I have learned from an enthusiastic mistake.


I don’t know what choices you have, but I would use cubed or chopped turkey, not ground. Ground meats have a tendency to cook down to sawdust–yuck.

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I don’t find that poultry stands up to long wet cooking very well. Whenever I’m making a “white” chili (chicken, turkey, white beans and usually green tomatillo salsa and Hatch chili seasonings, some jalaps and another fairly mild green chili, maybe some cream cheese and sour cream if I want it really white), I hold the poultry until near the end, only giving it 5 mins or so whether it was shredded leftovers, or ground that I had just sautéed.

Amen to that. I find it easier with red chili to get 8 or so different types in there (and sometimes overshoot the mark on hotness). With white chili it seems I’ve got less variety or green chilis (around here, anyway, or maybe I’m not looking hard enough) to work with.


The only thing I’ve ever successfully made with ground turkey is little meatballs. They were fine. I agree about what happens when you just cook it down.

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Thanks to everyone!

Sorry, I forgot to mention I have ground turkey.


^^ Oooh, I’d cast a vote for this. :blush: Ground turkey and a bit of chili-appropriate spice could get sautéed in olive oil and added to the chili pot near the end of the cooking time.

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I don’t think I’ve made turkey chili before, but faced with it this is what I would do.

1.) In a skillet over med-low heat add a good glug of EVOO. As soon as it comes up to heat add diced onion/bell peppers and a good pinch of kosher salt and cook until onions are translucent, then add lots of spices (cumin, chipotle/chile powders, etc.) and toast them until fragrant and stir to make almost a paste. Increase heat to med-high and add ground turkey and cook to brown, then remove from heat and set aside. Turkey should be brown and heavily coated with spice paste mixture.

2.) In a large sauce pan/dutch oven med heat add more onions and peppers of your choice with a good pinch of kosher salt and ground black pepper and cook until onions are translucent. Add minced garlic and cook a minute or two more. Add more spice of your choice and toast 'till fragrant. add a couple of tbsp of tomato paste and cook/stir for a couple of minutes. Then add crushed tomatoes (preferably San Marzano whole that have been hand crushed). Bring to a simmer and add a fair amount of oregano and a small amount of basil.

3.) Add a cup of the broth of your choice (I like BTB products, and they have a Chili base that is pretty good. Otherwise chicken or beef). Then your beans (my fav is S&W Chili Beans - I’ll add one canned drained, and another with the liquid). Bring everything to a simmer and reduce to the thickness of your choice (it should be pretty thick). Then season to taste using salt and pepper, and maybe some brown sugar and red wine vinegar.

4.) As soon as you’re happy with your tomato/bean mixture, fold in the turkey/spice paste… heat and serve.

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