Okay, so this chili hasn’t actually won any awards. But, I’m 99.9% certain that if I entered this chili into a State Fair contest, it would take home the Blue Ribbon. It has converted chili haters into bean worshippers, and innumerable people have said it is the best they’ve ever tried. Also, it can be made with either ground turkey or beef, so its customizable to your dietary preferences.
- 2 lbs ground turkey (not breast), or beef (90/10 or 85/15)
- 2 medium onions (vidalia, if available), diced
- 5-6 cloves of garlic, smashed
- 2-3 ribs celery, diced (optional)
- 3 tbsp grapeseed oil (1.5 tbsp only if using beef)
- 3 cans of beans, rinsed drained (use what you like- I use a combination of pinto and great northern beans)
- 1 1/2 boxes of Pomi Strained Tomatoes (OR 1 1/2 cans (28 oz.) of crushed or whole tomatoes, PUREED)*
- 1/4 cup honey
- 3 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp dried chipotle powder
- 1 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 3-4 tsp Kosher salt*
*the tomatoes I use have no salt added. If your tomato product has salt in it, salt your meat lightly, and taste the chili after adding your tomatoes and beans before adding any additional salt.
Heat 1 1/2 tbsp of oil in a large pot (I use a 7 or 8 qt) over high heat. Once oil shimmers, add onions and garlic (and celery, if using) and 1/2 tsp salt. Reduce heat to medium and cook onion mixture, stirring occasionally, for about 10-15 minutes. You want the onions to be soft with a little bit of color. Season ground meat with 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Remove onion mixture from pot and into a heat safe bowl. If using turkey, add another 1 1/2 tbsp of oil to pot. If using beef, do not. Raise temperature back up to high and carefully add meat to the pot. Mash the meat into one cohesive disk, making sure that every bit of the pot’s surface area is covered with meat. Do not stir. Let a nice crust form on the surface of the meat (this is where the magic happens in this recipe). Once this happens, turn the heat down to medium and stir the meat to break it up. Scatter the cumin and chipotle over the meat and stir, cooking the other sides.
Once meat is cooked through, add onion mixture back to pot with meat and stir to combine. Add tomato, honey, beans, and the remaining black pepper to pot. Stir to combine. Place a lid on the pot and reduce heat to medium/low. Once chili begins to bubble, reduce heat to low. Stir chili and using the back of the spoon, press some of the beans against the sides of the pot so that they release some of their starch. This will help to thicken the chili. Taste the chili and season with additional Kosher salt if desired (I usually add around 2 tsp more salt). Replace the lid, but tilt it so that the pot is slightly ajar. You want some moisture to escape so the chili thickens. Cook on low for about an hour. Serve with all the fixings. I like sour cream, avocado, and tortilla chips.