I know it’s August, and therefore summer, and therefore most likely broiling hot where many of you live, but I’m posting a recipe for chili today. Yes, it may feel a bit backwards to see a pot of chili simmering on the stove in the middle of August, but sometimes it’s fun to be backwards. Plus I just really, really love chili.
While it’s true that chili is one of my very favorite foods (add cornbread to the mix and we’re entering the realm of my top 5 favorite meals ever), I didn’t actually make this particular chili to be eaten. At least not right away. You see, I’m heading off to the wondrous world of college in just a few short days, leaving behind a pair of poor little empty-nested parents. I keep picturing them wandering around the house in a state of mourning, peering sadly at my stripped-down bed and noting the absence of all my neurotically-labeled “Emma” items in the fridge. (Hey, if you lived with an extremely active 18-year-old brother who, along with his equally active friends, regularly raided your fridge, you might start labeling your food, too!)
Anyway, my mind keeps drifting to all the things that will be different after I’m gone. Who will bake an endless amount of pumpkin-oriented treats throughout the fall? Who will my dad play Scrabble with now that the only other Scrabble-lover in the house is gone? Who will my mom watch soap operas and romantic comedies with now that my brother is leaving? Don’t worry, just kidding on that last one. My mom hates soap operas.
One thing I do know is that I seem to be the only member of our family who was bitten by the cooking bug, at least during the school year. After a long day of teaching, the last thing my parents want is to come home and make
an elaborate anything that takes longer than 15 minutes for dinner. Especially next year, when they’ll have no starving children to feed, minus our food-obsessed beagle. So I cooked up a giant pot of one of our favorites, Two-Bean Turkey Chili, and froze it in gallon-sized zip-locks to be thawed and reheated at my mom and dad’s leisure. With just the two of them, I figure it will be at least three meals’ worth. Now I know that they’ll at least have a few days where they can come home to a hot, homemade, no-fuss meal. Of course, my mom will probably start crying when she sees the bags of homemade chili in the freezer. It’s just their nature, those mothers of ours.
Since I already had the chili made, I figured I might as well post the recipe since it’s so darn good! It’s hearty yet healthy, well-seasoned yet mild, and really hits the spot on a chilly evening. Packed with ground turkey, two kinds of beans, rich tomatoes, and warm spices, this chili can do no wrong. Tuck the recipe away to pull out when the weather cools down, or make it now if you can’t wait! I wouldn’t blame you.
Two-Bean Turkey Chili
Serves about 6
1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound lean ground turkey
1 medium onion, diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 medium yellow or red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-oz can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes, undrained
2 15-oz cans tomato sauce
1 Tbs chili powder
1 & 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp brown sugar
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté the ground turkey, onion, and garlic until the turkey is cooked through, breaking up the meat along the way. Drain off any excess grease and add the bell pepper to the pot. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the pepper is softened. Add in the beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and spices; stir well.
Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a low simmer. Simmer the chili for at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour (the longer, the better for texture and flavor). Make sure to stir the chili occasionally, scraping along the bottom. Serve with shredded cheese, chopped red onion, sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, and/or cornbread.
(Recipe slightly adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)