Saturday, February 4, 2012

Got chili?

I wonder how many pots of chili will be made for the big game on Sunday? Although I don't care for football, I do like a good warming bowl of chili and make my version of it often. My recipe uses extra lean turkey and loads of healthy kidney beans and mushrooms, but the fun part is that I also add in Mexican chocolate and beer! The end result is a complex, hearty bowl of yum, and trust me, you won't ever miss the beef. Oh and this chili is muy bueno with a frosty margarrrrrita!

1 lb extra lean ground turkey (breast meat only) 
1 28 oz can of ground peeled tomatos
8 oz of chicken stock (homemade is better)
1 bottle of Mexican beer
1 lb presoaked dark kidney beans (or 2 cans)
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tsp olive oil for sauteing
2 containers of mushrooms, sliced
1-2 roasted poblano chile peppers, diced*
2 tblsp ground cumin
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tsp dried Mexican oregano
1 oz chunk of Mexican chocolate (see end of post)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
a few dashes of liquid smoke (über secret ingredient)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
several springs of fresh cilantro

In a large le Creuset style pot, sauté onions and garlic in some olive oil, remove, then brown the sliced mushrooms and remove those from the pan. Sauté the ground turkey in two batches so it doesn't steam. Toss in the rest of the ingredients except the fresh cilantro—the tomatoes, chicken broth, beer, beans, onions, garlic, mushrooms, chile peppers, cumin, chili powder, Mexican oregano, Mexican chocolate, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and the liquid smoke, and bring it all to a low simmer. That's about it! Then just let that big bad pot of chili simmer away (covered) for around 3 hours so the flavors really commingle and get yummy, and the liquid reduces. I (quite proudly) do not own a crock pot, but if you do this would be a good time to use it. Use your intuition, and when the chili seems done, it probably is. Add the chopped cilantro leaves just before serving so the color stays fresh and vibrant. Get that ladle out and accessorize your bowls of chili however you wish—I like a dollop of low fat sour cream and/or grated queso freso or Jack cheese if I am feeling decadent, and more cilantro leaves. Be sure to have some crunchy tortilla chips nearby too!

* To roast the poblano chile peppers: Place peppers on a sheet pan under the broiler, directly on a gas stove top, or even better, on the grill. I grill a big batch of peppers in the summer and freeze them in small batches to use in this chili during the winter. However your heating method, the peppers will blister and turn black, and that's good. Roast for 2-3 minutes each side, and keep rotating the pepper. Place under a bowl or in a plastic bag to steam the pepper, which will make removing the skin much easier. Once the peppers have cooled peel the skin, remove the seeds, and dice. Absolutely do not rub your eyes! Poblano peppers are only mildly hot but would feel intensely hot in your eyeball. You can also buy canned chile peppers, but isn't getting your hands messy way more fun? Read more about chile peppers on a post I wrote back on August 25 of 2011 here.

I'd rate the spicy factor on this chili as medium, however...
If you like a spicier chili add any of the following:

chipotle chile peppers in adobo sauce
cayenne chile pepper powder
chile pepper pepper flakes
fresh or canned jalapeño pepper
Tobasco sauce

Mexican chocolate has a very unique flavor— it's made with 
textured cocoa nibs, a bit of cinnamon and is a natural with 
chili spices. It makes an insanely good cup of warm cocoa. You can 
buy Mexican chocolate at Whole Foods stores, or if you can't find it, 
just use a good 70% dark chocolate.

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