Yes, the endlessly cold days of January have arrived. Trees which just a month or so ago held vibrant leaves in burnished hues of red, rust, amber and orange now stand barren. Inside, logs crackle in the fireplace and their warmth lures me into la cucina to create comfort food in a bevy of flavors. The only problem with this scenario is that the words “comfort food” conjure up unappealing thoughts of a rapidly expanding waistline. Now I do believe that on occasion we should throw caution to the wind and load up on the riches and calories many such foods offer. C’mon, mashed potatoes are voluminously tastier when whipped with butter and cream as opposed to … low sodium chicken broth! Clearly, the Holidays came and went at break-neck speed, yet I still managed to sit down for a few too many feasts. Now I’m not one for New Years resolutions, but I am ready to get back on a healthy diet. The words “healthy comfort food” don’t always imply a flavor compromise, and I guarantee this Chili recipe is as delicious and hearty as any “beefier” versions I’ve consumed! Easy to make, calorie-conscious and damn tasty … my family and friends devour this dish every time I serve it.
Turkey & White Bean Chili
(Serves 10 to 12)
1 lb. lean ground turkey
3 links Italian sausage, casings removed and cut or broken into 1” pieces.
3 (15 oz.) cans cannellini beans, rinsed well and drained
6-7 cups reduced sodium chicken stock
2 Tbsp. butter
1-1/2 Tbsp. minced garlic
3/4 cup diced yellow or white onion
2 (4 oz.) cans diced green chiles, including juice
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
2-3 kale leaves, finely chopped or minced
1 cup frozen, canned or fresh corn
1/4 cup white corn meal (masa harina), plus more if needed, for thickening
1/2 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped
Shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese for garnish
In a large skillet, cook the ground turkey, stirring frequently to crumble into small pieces. Drain in a colander. In the same skillet, add the Italian sausage and cook, stirring frequently and crumbling the pieces. Add sausage mixture to the colander and drain with the turkey.
In a large pot, combined chicken stock and beans and bring to a light boil. Wipe excess fat from the skillet and melt the butter over moderately high heat. Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add garlic and chiles and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add chile mixture to pot with beans and stock.
Add the cooked turkey and sausage mixture, cumin, oregano, the peppers and corn, half of the cilantro and the corn meal. Decrease heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 1-1/2 hours. Remove from heat, add the chopped kale and let cool for a half hour or so for the flavors to open up.
Ladle into bowls, top with cheese and some of the remaining cilantro, grab a yummy glass of vino, then head off to cozy up by the fire and savor the tasty, guilt-free goodness awaiting in this bowl of chili … Buon Appetito!