Turkey Chili

 Guest post by Sara

I made this turkey chili for a college friend, and she absolutely loved it.  When she asked me where I got the recipe, I showed her my College Survival Cookbook; and she wanted a copy of the cookbook right then and there.  We compromised, and I gave her the recipe for the chili and a few others.  She was excited to try making the chili, so we planned that we would have dinner together and that she would make it at her apartment.  Only I didn’t realize at first that she was intending for me to be there for the actual meal preparation.

Mom sent me to college prepared!

Even though I knew my friend hadn’t previously done a lot of cooking, it didn’t occur to me that some common cooking techniques which are second nature to me might not be to her.  I arrived at her apartment later than she had expected so she had started cooking without me.  When I opened the door to her apartment, I found her standing on a chair fanning her screeching smoke detector with a fog of smoke filling the apartment!

She had heated her pot without adding any oil to it and had set it at too high a temperature.  Rather than gently sautéing at medium heat, she added the oil and started frying the onions and peppers she had chopped at very high heat.  Within short order, the vegetables were burning and the smoke was billowing, setting off the alarm.  Cue my entrance into this chaotic scene!

Needless to say, we started over.  Fortunately, my friend had enough onions and peppers left to save the meal.  I then proceeded to make the chili, giving her step-by-step instructions and demonstrated how to chop and sauté the vegetables and meat.  Since then, my friend has become a pro at making this chili.  It is a go-to meal for her, and she has even impressed her family by cooking it for them back home on school breaks.

This is a wonderful meal to make when the weather turns cold.  I like to serve it with a dollop of sour cream, Mexican cheese and sprinkled with chopped avocado.  I sometimes ditch the spoon and eat this hearty chili with tortilla chips.  If my friend can make this, so can you—don’t miss out on this fabulous chili!

College Corner  Notes: 

  • Sautéing vegetables is easy once you know how.  Pour a thin layer of oil in a pan large enough to hold the chili (or whatever it is you are making).  Pour just enough to cover the bottom of the pan, keeping in mind you may have to add a little more if the vegetables start to stick.  Preheat the oil in the pan on the medium setting of your cooktop’s burner.  When you can see a little shimmer on the surface of the oil, it is time to add the vegetables.  You do not want to see violent bubbling of the oil which would indicate the oil is too hot.  In that case, you would need to take the pan off the heat to cool down a bit.  Once the oil is heated, add the vegetables.  You should hear a nice little sizzle when you do so.  It is important that you stay at your cooktop, stirring the vegetables periodically.  When you have more experience, you will be able to turn away from the vegetables for short periods of time to continue other meal preparations.  You should not, however, leave the kitchen when you have food frying in a pan.
  • If you don’t have all the spices for this dish you can buy a taco seasoning mix.  You should definitely invest in spices because you will want to make this again, and the same seasonings can be used for other dishes such as tacos and enchiladas.  You may also want to cut this recipe in half if cooking for just yourself.

Fran’s Notes:  This chili won 2nd place in a chili contest we held at work.  Personally, I think it could have won 1st place!  I tracked down the recipe, and it has become part of my family’s normal fall/winter meal rotation.  As always, you can make this hotter by adding cayenne pepper or some minced jalapeño peppers.  As a family member is fond of saying, “Shoot yourself!”

Turkey Chili

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  • 2 lbs. ground turkey
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 14-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 14½-oz can diced tomatoes (Red Gold makes a hot version if you want to make it spicier)
  • 2 cups chicken broth or 1 14-oz. can chicken broth
  • 4-oz. can green chile peppers, chopped
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped cilantro


  • Avocado
  • Lime wedges
  • Mexican cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Tortilla chips


Sauté the onion and red pepper in vegetable oil in a large pot, stirring frequently, for 8 to 10 minutes.

Add garlic and cook briefly.  Add turkey and cook until no longer pink.   Break up turkey as it cooks.

Add the beans, tomatoes (with juice), chicken broth, chile peppers, chili powder, cumin, and oregano and simmer for 20 minutes.

Let cool a bit, then stir in the cilantro and sour cream.  Otherwise, serve the sour cream on the side as a topping along with the avocado, lime wedges, and Mexican cheese.

Source:   Adaptation of a South Beach diet recipe given to me by a friend at work

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