Chilly? Chili

The best remedy for one of those bone-chilling, never-want-to-leave-the-house winter days: CHILI. A bowl of it (paired with a stoking hot fire and a cozy flannel shirt) will get you so warm that you'll forget that Mother Nature just dumped 3 feet of snow outside your window. Versatile, easy and satisfying, chili is one-pot wonderful -- I could have for every meal. I have experimented with many different recipes, acquiring a handful of favorites and many more that I want to try. With chili the possibilities are endless, so I've made it my goal to expand my repertoire this season. So far, I've made a list from various sources that includes Cincinnati Chili, Pork and Hominy Chili, White Bean and Turkey Chili, White Chili, Black Bean Chili, Chunky Vegetarian Chili, Turkey and Bean Chili, Cashew Chili, and Chipotle and Chocolate Chili. (I'll probably have enough for a chili cookbook by the end...)

One of my recent conquests is a recipe for Turkey and Bean Chili from Cooking Light. The recipe uses a lot of the ingredients I have added to my chili in the past, with a few alternative ingredients that give it a more southwestern flavor (ie. lime and cilantro). Here's what the recipe calls for:

1 cup chopped red onion
1/3 cup chopped seeded poblano pepper (about 1)
1 tsp minced garlic
1 1/4 lbs ground turkey

1 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 (19-oz) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5-oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (14-oz) can fat free, lower-sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
6 lime wedges

1. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add first 4 ingredients; cook for 6 minutes or until turkey is done, stirring frequently to crumble.
2. Stir in chili powder and next 8 ingredients (through broth); bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes
3. Stir in cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

This dish was deliciously seasoned -- I used some tubed cilantro as well which I think gave it an even stronger herb pungency than if fresh cilantro was used. The lime wedges added a unique fresh citrus flavor to accompany the meatiness of the turkey, tomatoes and beans. Next time I may add more cumin than the recipe calls for -- I prefer more of that seasoning in my chili. I also used slightly less chicken broth to reduce the liquidity (I like my chili thick!) Overall, mighty tasty, and simple to make. It only took about 20 minutes, compared to other chilis that require hours of simmering.

I made this recipe the day after I tried the Turkey and Bean Chili (..what can I say, it was a cold week and I had Chili fever...) I pulled ingredients from a variety of sources and ended up creating my own variation. My use of cashews was inspired by one of my favorite chilis from Hamilton Whole Foods, an organic-vegetarian eatery near Colgate University that I frequented during my undergrad study there. I made it a a goal to attempt their chili -- a meatless version that features cashews and carrots, among other vegetables. Here's what I concocted:

Half of a red onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic

1 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp tomato paste
3 tsp oregano
1 Tbsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 can cannellini beans
1 can chickpeas
1 can black beans
1 (28-oz) can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup cashews

1/c cup fresh parsley

1. Heat large saucepan over medium heat. Add first 4 ingredients, saute for 5 minutes.
2. Stir in chili powder and next 12 ingredients (through cashews); bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 + minutes.
3. Add chopped parsley. Stir and serve.

A great sequel to the turkey and bean chili from the day before.

....Next up, my recipe for Chipotle & Chocolate Chili. Prepare for the sweet heat...

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