Recipe: Turkey, Black Bean and Kidney Bean Chili

I love chili. It’s great for dinner or lunches and only gets better as it sits in the fridge. I like to make a pot of soup or chili and freeze it in single serving containers to bring to work for lunch. Or if I had a long day and I don’t feel like cooking, it makes a great supper. This is  a lower fat version and I don’t for one second pretend that it’s like a traditional bowl of Texas Red, but it is pretty nutritious. The fat is lower by substituting the beef for turkey and you get lots of fiber from the beans. As well, black beans have as many antioxidants as cranberries. And there’s lots of lycopene from the tomatoes. It’s a veritable bowl of nutrition! Woot woot!


1 package of ground turkey (about a pound or so)

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 large onion, roughly chopped

3 cloves of garlic minced

2 tablespoons of chili powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground coriander

2 tablespoon paprika

2 teaspoons of ground mustard

1 tablespoon cinnamon

Salt and Pepper to taste

2 large 28 oz cans of diced or whole tomatoes

1 small can of diced green chillies

1 can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed

Tabasco sauce to taste (not pictured)

1. Ok, first things first, you want to brown that turkey. It’s a little more difficult to brown turkey because it doesn’t have as much fat and it dries out quickly, but it’s nice to get a little colour on it. You could also fry up a little turkey bacon cut into slivers and then brown the meat in the bacon fat, but I didn’t have any turkey bacon and to use pork bacon seems to defeat the purpose of using a lower fat meat. I heated my pot over medium high heat, added the olive oil and turkey. Make sure you break up the turkey with your spoon so you’re not left with a giant brick of meat.

All of the pink as in the picture above should be cooked out. The size of the turkey crumbles is ok, but there should be no pink.

2. When the meat is cooked and there are no traces of pink (that’s where salmonella lives and it’s not very tasty), add the onions and a small pinch of salt. After the onions start to soften, about 5-7 minutes, add the minced garlic. I find it easiest to thinly slice the garlic and then run my knife back and forth to mince it finely:

Ignore the creepy, hyperextended fingers on the knife blade. I don’t think it’s healthy for your fingers to bend at that angle. You should see what I can do with my fingertips…

Anyway, it doesn’t need to be perfect. This is chili, not high tea with the Queen!

After about a minute or so, add in your spices. I like to toast my spices a bit, kind of like with Indian food. You can add whatever spices you like, the spices listed above just happened to be the ones I wanted to add. I forgot to buy more dried oregano at the grocery store, but I would have added a few teaspoons of that, as well, if I had it. But make sure you add a little cinnamon. Trust me. This won’t taste like pie.

3. Add your two cans of tomatoes. If using whole tomatoes, which I actually prefer, make sure you break up the tomatoes with your spoon. Costco had a special on diced tomatoes, so that’s what I used. Also, use the liquid from the tomatoes to deglaze the pot a little. Some of those spices will stick a little to the bottom. Not only do they belong in your mouth as opposed to the pot, this helps with the clean up when you’re done. Add the small can of green chillies.

4. Drain and rinse the beans. That sludge is pretty gross and is starchy and too salty and will give the chili a sick, mottled, grey pallor. This is bad. Here’s a little top tip. I don’t know about you, but I only have two hands and while I’m getting the beans opened (I still haven’t mastered the art of can opening yet. Shut it.), I don’t want the sieve sitting on the bottom of the sink (there’s microscopic germs!). So, what do you do? Well, I use one of my cans that the tomatoes were in and put it in the sink. Then I put the sieve on the can and balance it there as I get the beans ready. Voila, everything ready to go and no microscopic germs on the sieve and, subsequently, your beans. Ok, maybe that was more common sense as opposed to a top tip, but I was pretty pleased with myself. Maybe even a little smug. Maybe.

5. Stir to combine well, put on a lid so it’s askew with a gap for the steam to escape and simmer for at least 30 minutes, but preferably for about an hour or so. At first the chili looks like this:

This doesn’t look too bad, but the tomatoes aren’t cooked enough. They’re too orange-y , watery and bitter. It needs a nice, slow simmer for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour. After simmering, the tomatoes darken a little and thicken up. It should look like this:

If you’re worried about the chili burning, you can throw it in the oven with the lid on. About 375 F should be fine, just make sure you’re using an oven safe dutch oven. This will provide a nice, gentle heat that will help to prevent having a burnt, charred bottom that you’ll have to clean later. This will also prevent a torrent of cursing as you attempt to scrape the carbonized turkey and beans from the pot. This is a good thing. Shake in some Tabasco sauce if you want a little more heat (I added a few teaspoons).

And now you have a pot of chili. I like to let it cool slightly, then dole it out into my little freezer containers. Apparently, I also like to make as much of a mess as I possibly can on the sides of the containers. The chili cools down even faster when broken down into smaller containers. Make sure it isn’t too hot when you put it in the freezer.

The longer this chili sits, the better it tastes. The spices get to hang out a little and it just tastes better. I like to serve it with a dollop of sour cream (low fat if I’m really watching what I eat), a sprinkle of cheese and some green onions. It’s also good with a few slices of avocado, cilantro, a wedge of lime and some tortilla chips. And beer. I usually have to skip the beer when I take it to work, but it would help perk up the afternoon on a slow day.

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One Response to Recipe: Turkey, Black Bean and Kidney Bean Chili

  1. Reeni says:

    I love chili too! Had it for dinner tonight. This looks great! Except for the red kidneys. Me and them don’t get along…

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