Sunday, January 20, 2008

"Extreme Makeover" Chili

What's a football Sunday evening without chili?

That's what we thought. And since we're trying to count calories here, we chose to make turkey chili.

We started out with a package of extra-lean ground turkey, about a medium onion and three minced garlic cloves, then added a can of Westbrae Salad Mix beans, a can of diced tomatoes and a packet of McCormick mild chili seasoning. But this was so bland it was scarcely worth the effort of throwing together. So I added about 1 dTBS of chili powder, an equal amount of cumin, a few healthy dashes of oregano, a couple grinds of black pepper and a tablespoon of finely minced fresh jalapeno. (We freeze these whole and then use them as needed. One caveat though -- you still have to not touch your eyes or hands after handling the frozen pepper, or you'll be in trouble.) Then I poured in the better part of a bottle of Corona that we had left over from our holiday family Mexican feast and let the mixture reduce. Then I added the juice of one lime and about a tablespoon of dried cilantro. (A couple of cilantro notes: I never cared for cilantro until I ate it in dishes that also included lime -- something about the lime seemed to change the taste of the cilantro in a favorable direction for me. And I know that dried cilantro is a very poor substitute for fresh, but here in Outer Podunk's neighboring town of South Succotash the local grocery store doesn't carry cilantro of any kind, so we make do.) After the chili simmered for awhile I sprinkled in a bit more chili powder, cumin and oregano.

The final product was outstanding -- best chili we've had in awhile. If you don't have a bottle of beer on hand, I think a teaspoon or two of sugar might add the very subtle sweetness that the Corona seemed to impart to the chili. But the lime is a necessity.


Scooper said...

Ooo. I'd recommend leaving out the cilantro and lime altogether. Instead, try adding a pinch of unsweetened cocoa powder, and about 2 Tbsp corn flour mixed in a little warm water. The first gives the chili a nice bite, and the second thickens the chili a bit. Substituting cayenne pepper for jalapeno gives you more control over the heat. And since chili powder is mild enough to eat, we use a lot - it adds depth of flavor. Finally, a small can of tomato paste (in addition to the diced tomatoes) can also add depth. If you need to reduce the fat/protein density, eggplant makes a nice addition. Corn bread is easy to make and is a good side dish with chili. If you must have lime, I recommend squeezing a few drops in your Tecate, a light pilsner style beer from Mexico that will be very refreshing with the chili.

Crimson Rambler said...

all marvelous suggestions, thank you BOTH!