Everyone has a favorite chili recipe, and this is the time of year to break out yours, invite over some friends and yell at football players on TV.
Maybe it’s time to try a new, healthier recipe, too? Chili is classic American comfort food, so we automatically assume that it can’t be healthy. But since it is so darned tasty, it’s worth the price of admission to try. And while I’m not against the occasional indulgence, I also love a recipe that manages to be both comforting and healthy.
Enter my game day turkey chili. Stay with me, here. This will not be your typical turkey chili because I have a few tricks up my sleeve. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good turkey chili. But they do occupy a special place in the stratified chili eco-system. Put them in a chili competition and you’ll see they land well below the fatty brisket chilies that feature tiny puddles of tasty melted fat that pleasantly coat the palate.
Turkey chili, if I’m honest, has been relegated to the “at least it’s hot” status for too long.
Here are my tricks. First, make it a red chili. White chili step aside for a moment. The red part comes from tomato, which is healthy, and frankly just feels like comfort food. Second, skip the salt. Instead, use soy sauce directly on the meat after cooking it. This is perhaps the greatest tip I can give you regarding ground turkey! White-ish meat in a deep red chili looks a little strange. You are reminded that you are eating The Healthy Turkey Chili.
But deepen that meat color just a little with the soy sauce and you are back in the land of Real Meaty Chili. The soy sauce also adds tons of rich, savory meaty flavor, a big benefit for a meat that can taste a little flat.
Final tip: Add a bit of unsweetened cocoa powder, which deepens both the color and the flavor. This is turkey chili done right! And so, 2016 is off to a good start.
GAME DAY TURKEY CHILI
Start to finish: 45 minutes
2 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
1 pound lean ground turkey
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, cored and finely chopped
12-ounce light beer
Two 15-ounce cans low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
14-ounce can low-sodium tomato sauce
Two 14-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons chili powder
Dash of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
Hot sauce, to taste
Plain low-fat Greek yogurt, to serve
Chopped scallions, to serve
Shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese, to serve
In a Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot over medium-high, heat 1 teaspoon of the oil. Add the turkey and cook, breaking it up, until cooked through, about 7 minutes. Sprinkle the turkey with the soy sauce and smoked paprika, then mix until well-coated. Continue to cook until any moisture in the pot is gone, about 3 minutes. Spoon the meat out of the pan and set aside.
Return the pot to the heat and add the remaining oil. Add the onion and red pepper, then cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to high, then add the beer to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom to loosen any stuck bits. Simmer for 2 minutes. Return the meat to the pot, along with the beans, tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, chili powder, cayenne and cocoa powder. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, then simmer for 30 minutes.
Serve with hot sauce, yogurt, scallions and cheese on the side.
Nutrition information per serving: 320 calories; 90 calories from fat (28 percent of total calories); 10 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 50 mg cholesterol; 660 mg sodium; 33 g carbohydrate; 11 g fiber; 10 g sugar; 24 g protein.
Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook, “Supermarket Healthy.” Find more at http://www.melissadarabian.net.