Thick Turkey Chili

You know what’s really sad? Not like sad sad, but more just unfortunate? When your favorite lipstick color gets discontinued. Or when you go to Trader Joe’s specifically to buy shredded brussels sprouts, and then they’re fresh out. Or when your neighborhood restaurant with the best turkey chili EVER either goes out of business or changes their recipe. This last “tragedy” has happened to me twice, once in Chicago and now in St. Louis. Isn’t this like lightning striking twice in the same place?! What’s a girl to do?!

I set out on a mission to find a turkey chili recipes that rivals the two now unattainable bowls of chili. What I loved about the restaurants’ chili is the thickness, flavor and uniformity. I prefer my chili to be the same throughout, not having tons of big chunks. Although the recipe that I found is pretty darn amazing, I still haven’t mastered the exact texture that I’m aiming for. However, I’ve started adding an extra step that helps me get close: I put the cooked turkey meat in the food processor. Hear me out here. I know this sounds bizarre, but no matter how long I stand at the stove and try to break up the meat in a pan, I still can’t get the finely and uniform bites that I prefer. So, putting the ground turkey in the food processor and pulsing it just two or three times helps me get what I want out of my chili. Of course, you don’t have to do this extra step, but its completely worth it from my perspective, and I hope you agree!

I’m still mourning the loss of my favorite places to get turkey chili, but until I discover another restaurant that has it down, my version will be serving as a great stand-in.

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Thick Turkey Chili

Recipe adapted from

What You Need

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large yellow sweet onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans in chili sauce (do not drain)
  • 1 (12 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 3 (10 ounce) cans tomatoes and green chilies
  • Shredded cheddar cheese and onions for garnish

What To Do

  1. Chop all vegetables into small pieces.
  2. In a large pot saute the vegetables in olive oil until soft. 15 minutes.
  3. In a separate pan, cook ground turkey until fully cooked. Do not worry about getting the meat into very small pieces. When the meat is done, add it to the bowl of a food processor. Using the Pulse function, pulse the meet about 3 times, until the meet is ground into fine, tiny pieces. We're not trying to liquify it or anything! If you do not care about bigger chunks of meat, you can skip this step.
  4. Add the meat to the cooked veggies.
  5. Stir in all seasonings; cumin, oregano, paprika, chili powder, black pepper, celery salt, kosher salt. Mix well to incorporate all the seasonings.
  6. Add tomato paste, canned tomatoes, and pinto beans with the chili sauce.
  7. Mix all ingredients well. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 1 hour to meld all the flavors and thicken the chili. Stir often. Be sure to taste the mixture to see if it needs more salt, pepper or chili powder to your liking.
  8. Ladle chili into large bowls and garnish with shredded cheddar cheese and finely chopped fresh onion.

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