This hearty, healthy Black Bean Turkey Chili is loaded with veggies, black beans, lean ground turkey and lots of delicious South-of-the-Border flavor!
I made a double batch of this Black Bean Turkey Chili earlier this week for a family get-together. I also had a nice sized container of the chili in the fridge from a test run I'd done the day before. I was sure there'd be plenty left for easy meals on the run this week. Was I ever WRONG!
When I went to clean up, the pot was almost empty, with barely enough left to send a lunch serving home with my son and son-in-law. I was a little sad (no leftovers!) but happy at the same time that everyone (young, old and all the in-betweens) enjoyed it SO much.
When Scott tasted his first spoonful of this Smoky Black Bean Turkey Chili, he said, "I'm not really crazy about beans but this might be the best chili I've ever had! What's in here that makes it so delicious?"
He might not have wanted such a detailed answer, but I told him about the wonderful layers of flavor and fabulous ingredients that I call "flavor bombs":
- The recipe starts out with two strips of smoky bacon that are diced and cooked until crisp. The bacon is removed and reserved and the fat that has been rendered is used to sauté a diced onion, a finely chopped jalapeño and a few minced cloves of garlic. That might not sound like much, but it's the perfect savory, smoky flavor foundation to start this chili recipe.
- Along with the onion and garlic (which add lots of flavor), herbs and spices like chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, black pepper, fresh cilantro and a generous dose of dried oregano are added to help those flavors "bloom" in the bacon fat.
- Next comes a few cups of chicken broth. The broth allows the chili to simmer, deepening the flavor, without making the finished product too thick and dry.
- Along with the chicken broth, fire-roasted tomatoes are the next in line. Fire-roasted tomatoes are tomatoes that are roasted and charred a bit before being canned. They're a delicious flavor booster and also make for a beautiful, deep-hued, enticing chili.
- A whole jar of diced, roasted red peppers is the next flavor bomb. These bits of pepper seem to melt into the chili as it simmers and produce another layer of wonderful flavor.
- Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce is next in the cast of characters, a delicious condiment that packs a lot of flavor punch in a small package. Chipotle peppers in adobo are smoked, dried jalapeños that are rehydrated and canned in a sweet, tangy, spicy tomato sauce. Chipotle peppers in adobo are reasonably priced and can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks in an airtight container and frozen for much longer. So even though you'll just be using one pepper for this recipe, you can keep the rest until you need it next!
- Lastly, a pinch of brown sugar helps mellow the acid of the tomatoes and rounds out all the flavors. It doesn't make the chili sweet just does a little magic in combination with the other ingredients.
So there you have it, a delicious meal in a pot that comes together in right around an hour. I love to serve it with a bowl of sour cream or Greek yogurt, some pickled red onions, cilantro, tortilla chips and, the "pièce de résistance"... our Mexican Cilantro Sauce. It adds another splash of fabulous flavor and gives lots of visual appeal to this black bean turkey chili!
If you haven't tried this bright, vibrant sauce, be sure to put it on your must-make-soon list. It's incredibly delicious and there are a zillion ways to use it in addition to this black bean chili.
If you have an event coming up where you need to feed a hungry crowd, this is the perfect make-ahead, low-stress meal! In fact, it's one of those dishes that gets even better as the ingredients have a chance to meld and marry. It also freezes well so you can make it WAY in advance for a get-together or divide it into smaller containers for easy, minimal-effort meals.
Try it! I'm pretty sure this Smoky Black Bean Turkey Chili will go on your frequent-flyer list. It sure would be on mine IF I didn't have a food blog and a crazy mind that's forever coming up with new ideas for recipes.... sigh.
Cafe Tips for making this Smoky Black Bean Turkey Chili
- Although this chili is called Black Bean Turkey Chili, it can also be made with ground chicken. I've tried both with delicious results!
- The recipe only calls for two strips of "thick-cut, smoky bacon" but this is an important ingredient. Look for a good quality bacon. Lots of grocery stores with meat counters sell their best bacon right there. And it's nice because you can purchase as much or as little as you want, since it's sold in bulk. If you ever run across Neuske bacon, made in the heart of Wisconsin, it's amazing. We also really enjoy Benton's bacon from Tennesee, but I'm sure each area of the country has its own beloved bacon. Applewood, cherrywood, hickory, pecan and mesquite smoked bacon are all delicious!
- This recipe calls for smoked paprika which is "made from pimento peppers that have been dried and smoked over an oak fire, then ground into a fine powder", according to The Kitchn. Smoked paprika comes in two varieties, hot and mild. If the label doesn't specify "hot" it's usually mild smoked paprika. I recommend mild paprika for this recipe. One of my favorites is Frontier Smoked Paprika.
- Another unique ingredient in this recipe is Ancho Chili powder. Ancho chili powder is fairly mild in heat intensity along with being slightly sweet and a little smoky. You'll find it along with other spices at most larger grocery stores.
- Do you have to use ancho chili powder for this recipe? Nope! If you have it or want to try it, it does add a delicious complex flavor, but you can also use your favorite regular chili powder. I would start with less (1 teaspoon) and add more at the end, to taste. I really like Mexene Chili Powder if I'm not using ancho chili powder. It's been around for a long time and is the choice of many chefs.
- I know there are people who have an aversion to cilantro and there is finely chopped cilantro in this recipe however it's cooked along with the other ingredients and while it loses its fresh taste, it adds a wonderful layer of flavor that no one would ever know is cilantro. Try it! I've found that even cilantro haters don't mind it when it's cooked in a recipe like this Smoky Black Bean Turkey Chili.
- One last ingredient that you might not be familiar with but is readily available in any grocery store that has an international aisle is Chipotle Peppers in Adobo sauce. It's described in more detail in the section above titled, Flavor Bombs. We like things mildly spicy so I start with a half of a finely diced chipotle pepper and add more later if I want a bit more heat.
Thought for the day:
But be sure to fear the Lord
and serve him faithfully
with all your heart;
consider what great things
he has done for you.
1 Samuel 12:24
What we're listening to for inspiration:
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- 2 strips thick-cut smoky bacon I use applewood smoked bacon
- 1 large sweet onion diced small
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 1 medium-size jalapeno pepper about 1-1½ ounces
- 4 medium cloves garlic finely minced
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2-3 teaspoons ancho chili powder start with 2 (see notes above in the post about chili powder)
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1½ teaspoons garlic salt
- 1½ teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground black peppe
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 28 ounces roasted tomatoes I use 2 15 ounce cans
- ½ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 15-ounce cans black beans drained but not rinsed
- 1 12-ounce jar (340g ) roasted red peppers well-drained and diced small
- ½-1 medium chipotlé pepper in adobo sauce finely chopped, (start with ½ of a pepper and add more later, to taste) - see the post regarding chipotlé peppers
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt more to taste
Stack the bacon strips on top of each other and cut in half lengthwise then cut crosswise into small pieces. Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the bacon bits and cook until crisp and golden, stirring occasionally. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a small bowl and reserve.
Add the ground turkey to the bacon fat and increase the heat a bit. Cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up the turkey into small bite-size pieces with a metal spatula as you go. Allow the ground meat to brown a bit before stirring again.
When the turkey is beginning to brown all over, add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes until starting to soften. Add the jalapeño, garlic, oregano, chili powder, brown sugar, garlic salt, smoked paprika, cumin and black pepper. Stir to combine and cook for another 1-2 minutes until nice and fragrant, stirring frequently.
Add the chicken broth, fire-roasted tomatoes, chopped cilantro, black beans, diced roasted red peppers, chipotle in adobo, reserved bacon and salt. Stir well to combine and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a low boil and cook for 25-30 minutes until the chili has thickened a bit. Taste and add more salt, if needed. Allow the chili to sit for 20 minutes for the flavors to meld and marry a bit before serving.
See Café Tips above in the post for more detailed instructions and tips to ensure success.
This recipe will yield a mildly spicy chili. If you like more heat, feel free to use more chili powder or more chipotle pepper.
Chili powders vary a lot in heat intensity so it’s better to start with less and add more, to taste.