Smoky Turkey Chili

Smoky Turkey Chili on The Creekside CookWhen the weather gets blustery and the chill in the air sticks around all day, you know it’s time to get some big pots of savory stuff going on the stove. It’s soup weather, stew weather – and, most importantly for us anyway – it’s chili weather!

We like things spicy around here, and since the flavor of turkey is not quite as distinctive as, say the steak I used in my Chuck Steak Chili, it is the perfect match for a some strong spices and a nice smoky flavor that really compliments the turkey and beans.

And, speaking of beans, one reason I wanted to make this particular chili, is because it uses 4 kinds of beans, and I am switching from canned beans to dried beans. We found a nearby place that sells organic, locally grown dried beans, so I am going to use up all the canned ones and buy dried, which is going free up a ton of space in my pantry. I will writing more about this soon – how easy it is to use dried beans, and how much cheaper it is, even if you buy local organic products.

You can use either canned, or cooked-from-dry beans for this chili though, and while I use four different kinds, you can use whatever you have on hand that your family or guests will enjoy.

Chipotle chili powder is pretty easy to find in any supermarket these days, and along with ground cumin, you have a lot of classic chili flavor. Here is how I make this great turkey chili!

Smoky Turkey Chili
Recipe type: Soups, Stews and Chili
Serves: about 6 quart of chili
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 2.5 lb package of ground turkey
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large sweet peppers, green or red, cut in a large dice
  • 1 large red or yellow onion, cut in a large dice
  • 3 stalks of celery, cut in thin slices
  • 4 to 6 garlic cloves, minced [or more if you like]
  • 2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 10 - 15 grinds fresh black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon granulate onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder [if serving little kids, or people you know are sensitive to spicy food, it is probably best to start with just 1 teaspoon]
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 28 ounce cans of whole tomatoes [or the equivalent amount in home canned or frozen tomatoes]
  • 2 - 3 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke, like Wright's*
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 15 ounce can each, pinto beans, red kidney beans, chick peas and black beans - drained and rinsed
  • 1 more clove of garlic - minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  1. This is going to make a pretty big pot of chili, so I use and 8 quart pot, to give me plenty of room in which to work. Heavy stainless steel* is the best choice.
  2. Over a high flame, heat the 2 tablespoon of olive oil in the pot, until it begins to shimmer slightly.
  3. Put all of the turkey in at once, and just break up very slightly - don't stir it all over, just let it sit, cooking in the hot oil for several minutes, to get a bit of caramelization on the meat.
  4. Once you see some nice color on the bottom, begin to stir the turkey around, and break it up a little. I like to leave the meat in fairly large chunks at this point, because turkey is softer than beef, and you don't want it end up too small at the end - you want some nice texture in there.
  5. When about ¾ of the turkey has lost it's pink color, add the peppers, onions, celery and garlic, and stir to combine. [you can hold back a few tablespoons of the veggies for the last half hour of cooking, if you like - gives things a bit of nice crunch] Leave the heat pretty high still.
  6. Sprinkle in the salt and pepper.
  7. Stir the turkey and veggies around every couple minutes, to keep things from sticking. Cook about 5 minutes, until the veggies are getting kind of soft.
  8. Add all of the spices, except the bay leaves and cook for a minute or two to wake them up.
  9. Add the tomatoes [I like to chop up the tomatoes a bit - you can just go in the cans with a pair of kitchen shears and cut through them, or dump them in and then cut around on them with a metal spatula.]
  10. Stir in the liquid smoke, red wine vinegar and chicken stock.
  11. Cook, covered for an hour, stirring every so often.
  12. After an hour, taste the chili, to see if it needs any more seasoning, and add more salt, maybe more chili powder or cumin if you think it needs it. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes.
  13. Add the beans, the additional garlic [which is optional, but it does add a nice edge], and stir. [if you held back a bit of the veg, add that now as well]
  14. Cook another 30 minutes.
  15. Stir in the cilantro and let sit, uncovered for 20 minutes.
  16. Serve in bowls. Provide whatever you like for sprinkling over the top - shredded cheese, sliced scallions, cubed avocado, sliced jalapenos, crushed tortilla chips, sour cream.
  17. Store refrigerated, and it does freeze well - thaw completely before heating.

It’s the perfect way to ward off the cold on a late fall day – smoky, warm comfort!Making Smoky Turkey Chili on The Creekside Cook

*Stuff from this post that I like:
Wright’s Liquid Smoke
Heavy Stainless Steel Pot

note: the links just above are Amazon affiliate links  
and I make a small commission on your purchase.

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Donalyn/The Creekside Cook

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