The person who decided that playoff football should always take place at the beginning of the year must have had a fast metabolism. January and February are the two months that most people are still going strong with their healthy eating resolutions—until the calorie minefield that is playoff football takes place. I, like many others, have left my resolution somewhere at the bottom of a bowl of chicken wings while caught up in the excitement of a big game. The truth is, unless your favorite team is playing for a title—and really, even when it is—the food is really the main attraction.
This certainly isn’t a health food blog. (For evidence, follow my love affair with frying here, here and here.) But I do try to start the year off on the right foot, especially knowing that it quickly fades into a blur of social engagements that require consuming ample food and drink. So for the last couple of playoff cycles, I’ve prepared a dish that allows me to participate in football festivities while still indulging in traditional football-watching food.
The key is chili. And not the greasy, beefy kind. Turkey chili is just as hearty but way less fatty, and it still stands up to all the traditional chili toppings you could ever want. Turkey is also milder than beef, so you can actually taste all those other seasonings and vegetables that share the bowl with it.
I’ve prepared my share of turkey chili recipes that I’ve found in cookbooks and online, but they always seem under-seasoned. This version is an amalgam of all the best ones I’ve made and takes the best parts of all of them. That means it’s heavier handed with the spices and full of good stuff like corn and beans.
Serves 6 hungry football fans
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
3 garlic cloves, minced
1½ pounds 93 percent lean ground turkey
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup water
1 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo
1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15.5-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups frozen corn kernels
Salt and pepper
1. Heat oil in Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in cumin, chili powder and garlic and let cook for 1 minute longer.
2. Add turkey to pot and use wooden spoon to break it up into smaller pieces. Cook until just cooked through, about 8 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, water, chicken broth and chipotle chiles and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
3. Stir in beans and continue cooking until chili is slightly thickened, about 15 more minutes. Stir in corn and cook until heated through. Season generously with salt and pepper. Serve with your favorite chili toppings.