Kitchen MacGyver: Turkey and White Bean Chili

I know it’s nowhere near football season, but I’m a fan of bucking tradition whenever I can and I say that chili can be devoured during the spring, too. I’m not talking about a five-alarm, palate wrecking concoction of fatty meat and esophagus-searing peppers, but a lighter version that’s still protein-heavy and hearty, but won’t make you sweat just stirring the pot. This turkey chili uses 98 percent lean ground turkey, but you could also use 98 percent lean ground beef, or chicken breast cubes. I prefer to buy hormone-free and free range poultry when I can.

Turkey and White Bean Chili

2 teaspoons grapeseed oil

1 package (about 1 1/2 pounds) 98 percent lean ground turkey

1 large yellow onion, diced

5 cloves garlic, minced

2 green bell peppers, deseeded and diced into small cubes

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried sage

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4-1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes, if desired

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon worcestershire sauce

1 cup Belgian strong ale (I used my husband’s home brew, but any variety you like to drink will do)

1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock

1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

part-skim cotija cheese, for serving (if desired)

In a large dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat, add oil and heat until it ripples slightly. Add ground turkey and sear, breaking up the meat into small crumbles as it turns white. Add onions, garlic and bell peppers and cook for 7 or 8 minutes, or until vegetables have softened. Add dried herbs and seasonings, then worcestershire sauce, beer and stock. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium-low and simmer for about 25 minutes. Add beans and cook for 5 more minutes.

Remove from heat, discard bay leaf, and serve with a sprinkle of cotija cheese, if desired. Baked tortilla or rice-flour tortilla chips make a nice accompaniment and contrasting texture to the chili.

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