Slow cooker, Weeknight dinner
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Slow-Cooker Weeknight Turkey Chili

Sorry for the lack of pictures; I’m leaving for a business trip later today. Unfortunately, that means I’m going to miss trick or treating tonight with the kids.*
*This will be the first time since Ben was 2, and we didn’t realize that Copley does their trick or treating the Sunday before Halloween – even if Halloween falls on the next Saturday. We were at my parents for dinner that night, so we didn’t see the trick or treaters. We were ready on Halloween, with our candy, and were wondering where everyone was? Luckily, Ben was young enough not to know the difference. We put his costume on, took some pictures, gave him a chocolate bar, and he was happy.

My mom would always make a big pot of chili on Halloween, and buy a pack of Halloween themed donuts*. I think this was her attempt to get us to eat some real food before our annual attempt to put ourselves into a diabetic coma. As a result, when the leaves start to fall, I get hungry for some “sissy chili” – ground beef, chili powder, and tomatoes**. Trying to be healthy, I’ve switched the recipe to ground turkey, and lots of beans.
*Mmmm. Doughnuts.
**Mom would be appalled – she doesn’t like beans in her chili. But – it’s my recipe now! Bwahahahahah! (Insert sound of sinister organ music playing here, preferably
Bach’s tocatta and fugue in D Minor.)

Recipe: Slow-Cooker Weeknight Turkey Chili

Serves 10 to 12

1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped medium
1 red bell pepper, chopped medium
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried oregano
6 cloves garlic , minced
2 pounds 85 percent lean ground turkey (or a 20oz package)
Table salt and ground black pepper
1 can (28 ounces) tomato puree
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
4 (15.5-ounce) cans dark red kidney beans , drained and rinsed

1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until just starting to shimmer. Add onions and bell pepper, and 1 tsp salt, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in spices and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

2. Add turkey, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, using wooden spoon to break up turkey into 1/2-inch pieces, and scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of pot, until just slightly pink, about 5 minutes.

3. Add tomato puree and diced tomatoes to empty pot and bring to simmer over medium-high heat, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pot. Transfer contents to slow-cooker insert.

4. Set slow cooker to low, cover, and cook until tender, 6 to 8 hours, stirring in beans during last hour of cooking. (Alternately, cook on high for 3 to 4 hours.) Adjust seasonings and serve. (Leftovers can be refrigerated for several days or frozen for several months.)

*Hotter Chili: add 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes with the other spices. Or, add 1tsp chipotle en adobo puree for a nice smoky heat.

*Make Ahead: Do through step 3 the night before. Transfer the chili to an airtight container and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, transfer it to your slow cooker and proceed with step 4.

*No Slow Cooker: Replace step 4 with: Add beans, return to a simmer, and simmer chili for 1 hour. Adjust seasonings and serve.

*Serve with sour cream and cheese to cool the burn. Or, with pickled jalapenos to increase the burn.

*Substitutions: I like doing half black beans and half kidney beans, to add some bean variety. Also, I doubled the beans from the original recipe – if you prefer a meatier chili, only use 2 cans. Also, I don’t always have tomato puree on hand, so I just use more diced tomatoes.

*Don’t cook for more than 8 hours – the meat will dry out.

Adapted from Cook’s Country magazine, June 2006.

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Filed under: Slow cooker, Weeknight dinner


Hi! I’m Mike Vrobel. I’m a dad and an enthusiastic home cook; an indie cookbook author and food blogger with a day job, a patient spouse, and three kids who would rather have hamburgers for dinner.

1 Comment

  1. I substituted seitan for the turkey, added some butter and salt to approximate the difference, and it was delicious. The chili I used was Scotch Bonnet. A bit hotter than most chili powder, but it doesnt have a lasting heat so you want some more almost immediately.

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