Turkey Chili with Pesto

I got three packages yesterday.  Is it strange/sad/weird that this made me ecstatically happy?  I have always loved getting mail.  As a kid, I’d run out to the mailbox to retrieve those precious letters even though most of them were bills and/or addressed to my parents.

That’s another bonus of being an adult, most of the mail is for me!!  Except it’s mostly bills and junk mail…but they’re my bills and junk mail.  With my name on it.  So there’s a little nugget of insight into what makes me unconscionably happy; mail with my name on it and bunny yawns.

How old am I again?  Old enough to make chili experiments and be targeted by credit card solicitations.  But let’s focus on the former of those points.

Pesto is a fabulous summery spread, made fifty times better when you can use the fresh produce becoming available as the season pushes forward.  Putting it in a chili might not be the first thing that comes to mind, and I’ll admit that I was slightly skeptical as to how pesto would lend its flavors to this dish.

But it worked, and pretty well at that.  The original recipe called for chicken breast cut into tiny pieces, but that seemed like a lot of work to me, so I used ground turkey instead.  It also seemed to be a more appropriate meat to use in a chili.

I love when odd combinations turn out well.

Turkey Chili with Pesto

Adapted from Cooking Light: Annual Recipes 2003

Makes 4-6 servings

2 tsp olive oil (or other neutral veg oil)

1 pound ground turkey

1 medium onion, diced

2 medium carrots, diced

1 tsp oregano

½ tsp cumin

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper

one 16oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

14 oz chicken stock

¼ cup pesto

 Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add onion and turkey and sauté for 5 minutes, breaking up clumps in the ground meat.  Add carrots and sauté for another 4 minutes.  Add the spices (including salt and pepper), beans and stock, and bring to a boil.

Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes.  You can take the lid off for the last 10-15 minutes if you like your chili on the thicker side (like me).  Turn off the heat, stir in pesto and serve!

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Mole Chicken Chili

I know it’s Easter, yet I’m posting about a main dish that would be more appropriate for Cinco de Mayo.  Happy Easter everybody!!

Luke and I are going to his parent’s house to celebrate.  I think we’re having steak, since Luke doesn’t like ham.  The other option was ordering sushi…but I put my foot down.  No, we are cooking something on Easter dammit.

I need to spend some time in the kitchen, as I spent almost all of yesterday playing Zelda: The Ocarina of Time on my beat up Nintendo 64.  I just needed to zone out and not think about anything.  And sit on my butt all day.  And eat Spaghetti Os for dinner.  Saddddd.

So I need to get back on track.  While this isn’t an Easter meal, it’s certainly a great weeknight meal, especially since it’s made in the slow cooker.

The sauce this dish creates is very interesting because of the addition of cocoa powder.  It’s definitely in a category of its own as far as chilis go; a great supplement to traditional chili.  If you’re looking for something a little different, this is the meal for you.

Mole Chicken Chili

Adapted from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

Makes 4-6 servings

2 medium onions, minced
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 tsp minced canned chipotle chilis
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

Combine the onions, vegetable oil, chili powder, cocoa powder, garlic, cinnamon and cloves in a microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave until the onions are softened, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to the slow cooker.  Add the broth, tomatoes (and their juice), peanut butter, and chipotle chilis and stir to combine.  Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper then nestle into the slow cooker.

Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours, or until the chicken is fall-apart tender. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and, using 2 forks, shred the meat into bite-size pieces. Let the chili settle for a few minutes then skim any fat from the surface with a spoon. Add the chicken back to the slow cooker and heat for just a few minutes to warm through. Mix in the scallions and add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over white rice and garnish with the sesame seeds.


Turkey & Bean Chili

I have this problem.  I’m not sure if it’s a common thing, or if it’s just me.  Whenever I brown ground meat, I can never seem to get it to break apart properly.  So when I make dishes involving ground meat, there are always big chunks of meat stuck together.  I don’t mind, I mean, it tastes the same, it just doesn’t take as pretty a picture.  Compounded with the fact that the shots I take at night never seem to come out looking very good, I realize these pics aren’t so great.  But the chili is super nommy, I swear.

I have this other problem.  I don’t know how to control my rabbit’s weird instinctual night craziness, where she darts in and out of her cage and then does mid-air 360s, while tossing her hay all around the living room.  I wonder what it sounds like to our downstairs neighbors.  It’s pretty wild.  Izzy’s going to the vet today to be examined before her spay.  I’ve never taken a rabbit to the vet before, so hopefully it won’t be too traumatic.

Ok, back to chili.  Even though it’s been a pretty mild winter so far in New England, (aside from Snotober) especially compared to last year when my college actually declared a campus wide snow day, winter is still a time for warm, filling food served in bowls.

Chili, soup, curry, I eat them all in the warmer months too, but somehow they become slightly better when filling a cold belly.  Sadly, Luke is not a big fan of soup, (unless it’s cream based, which I don’t like, and since I’m the cook, I decide what gets made!) so I make soup knowing I’ll most likely have to eat it all.

Chili is a more viable option for the both of us.  It’s meaty, beany, warm and delicious.  I really can’t think of a bad thing about chili.  It’s also a very versatile food; I’ve seen many awesome looking veggie options, as well as ones that use stew meat.  (I made the latter before I started this blog, and it was amazing.  I promise I’ll make it again.)  This chili is simple, tasty and incredibly satisfying.  Can’t do much better than that.

Turkey & Bean Chili

Adapted from My German Kitchen

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 pounds lean ground turkey (or ground beef)
1/4 cup chili powder
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
3 cups beef stock or canned beef broth (I used chicken stock)
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
3 15-ounce cans small white beans, rinsed, drained (I subbed in a can of kidney beans)
Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until light brown and tender, about 10 minutes. Add oregano and cumin; stir 1 minute. Increase heat to medium-high. Add turkey; stir until no longer pink, breaking up with back of spoon. Stir in chili powder, bay leaves, cocoa powder, salt and cinnamon. Add tomatoes with their juices, breaking up with back of spoon. Mix in stock and tomato sauce. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add beans to chili and simmer until flavors blend, about 10 minutes longer. Discard bay leaves. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium-low heat before continuing.)