skillet turkey chili

Right around the time quarantine cookies and tacos became a habit this spring, I also realized that that none of my existing chili recipes exactly fit the bill of what I wanted for dinner — namely, to focus on ground turkey, have a minimized ingredient list, and not take terribly long because it turns out that even with all day, every day at home, I just don’t have enough time to plan ahead for dinner and please don’t try to use reason or psychology to suggest there are other forces at play, okay?

what you'll need (cornbread optional, but not for us)

what you'll need (cornbread optional, but not for us)


For fun — clearly I’m a party animal — I enjoy plucking random recipes from the archives, dusting them off, and seeing if a tune-up would be beneficial.* Sometimes I dig far enough back that I find photos so ghastly that I react as if a Dali-faced mask leapt out from my laptop screen (yes, I’m in deep). And this was the case with a 2007 Red Bean Chili which I’m not even linking to; it’s that bad. But as I began tuning it up, I ended up leaving almost nothing from the original recipe — it now has a more fitting yield for a weeknight, adds ingredients in what I consider a better order, only uses turkey and beans, the spices are more balanced, and by balanced, I mean, we no longer use 1/3 cup chili powder, thank heavens. I’m sorry to tease you with the inclusion of a pretty cornbread, my favorite thing to make with chili — it’s almost, but not quite ready. But I promise you’ll read about it here first when it is.

cook onions, garlic, spices

cook onions, garlic, spicesadd remaining ingredientsskillet turkey chiliskillet turkey chili

* Here are a few from recent months.

Two more chilis: Three-Bean Chili and Chicken Chili

Previously

6 months ago: Roast Chicken with Schmaltzy Cabbage
1 year ago: Chicken Curry
2 year ago: Even More Perfect Apple Pie
3 years ago: Quick Pasta and Chickpeas and Chocolate Olive Oil Cake
4 years ago: Garlic Wine and Butter Steamed Clams, Baked Alaska, Indian-Spiced Cauliflower Soup and Skillet-Baked Pasta with Five Cheeses
5 years ago: My Old-School Baked Ziti and Cannoli Pound Cake
6 years ago: Better Chicken Pot Pies and Better Chocolate Babka
7 years ago: Miso Sweet Potato and Broccoli Bowl and Purple Plum Torte
8 years ago: Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
9 years ago: Apple Pie Cookies
10 years ago: Mushroom Lasagna
11 years ago: Quiche Lorraine and Breakfast Apple Granola Crisp
12 years ago: Majestic and Moist Honey Cake, Best Challah (Egg Bread), and Mom’s Apple Cake
13 years ago: Peter Reinhart’s Bagels and Peanut Butter Brownies
14 years ago: Lemon Cake

Skillet Turkey Chili

Always good to note: Chili powder is a spice blend for Tex-Mex chili. Chile powder is just made from ground chiles/dried hot peppers. I prefer the latter in chili, and then use the spice balance I want. Chile powders will range a lot in heat; use the level that you prefer. Alternately, or in addition, 1 tablespoon puree from a can of chipotles en adobo will provide a spicy, flavorful kick here. For the turkey, I prefer a blend of dark and light meat. To quick-pickled onions: Cut half of a small red onion into thin wedges. Toss with juice of half a lime, two good pinches of salt, one pinch of sugar, and set aside while you make the chili.
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped small
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 to 3 teaspoons ground chile powder (see Note; to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 15-ounce can black or small red beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 lime
  • To serve: Sour cream, pickled red onions, pickled jalapenos, grated cheddar, cornbread, fresh cilantro, lime wedges, and/or thinly sliced scallions
Heat a large skillet — ideally 11 to 12 inches in diameter — over medium high heat. Once hot, add the oil and let it warm up. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and cook until somewhat softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, your first teaspoon chile powder (and more to taste), oregano, and cumin and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more. Add turkey and use your spatula to break it up and work the onion mixture through it. Cook until lightly browned at edges and no pink remains, about 5 minutes. Add beans and tomatoes and refill empty tomato can with water, setting it aside.

Bring chili mixture to a simmer and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring regularly. Add reserved can of water, 1/3 at a time, if mixture looks dry. Taste for salt and spice and adjust as needed. With a mild chile powder, I’ll add up to 2 teaspoons more, and did so here. If you can, let chili rest 5 minutes off heat before serving; I find that the texture sets up nicely. Finish with the juice of half the lime, and any fixings you like.

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