after (inadvertently) taking a year and half off from posting, i’ve apparently decided that i will return with a recipe for a turkey tomatillo chili that serves a good size crowd at a time when many of us are cooking for smaller numbers. oh, and did i mention that it looks a bit like dog food? yes, that sounds about right. all i can say is we know this must be some really good soup, because it’s not going to win any beauty or seo (search engine optimization, aka giving the people what they want) contests.
sure, you could cut the recipe down, but i recommend you don’t, because once you’ve tasted this tomatillo turkey chili, you’re going to be looking forward to eating all of the leftovers and not just because it means you don’t have to cook on a busy weeknight (though that’s undoubtedly a bonus).
i came across the original version of this turkey chili with white beans and tomatillos listening to the audio version of ruth reichl’s save me the plums: my gourmet memoir (affiliate link). while listening to reichl read the recipe aloud while out on a walk in the dark on a cold november night was not the most inspiring moment of my life, something about it caught my attention because i decided i wanted to try the recipe.
all set to sit down and transcribe the recipe from the audio book, i remembered something. the internet. i remembered the internet AND, more specifically, that it probably already contained this recipe in written form.
6 seconds later, i was set to go, adding ingredients to the grocery list. thank you, internet.
when i set about to make the recipe and actually read it carefully (hey, i never said i excelled at reading the whole recipe through before diving in), i noticed that it was a bit, um, fussy.
if i may be so bold as to say, it read like a recipe written by someone not entirely transitioned back into washing all of her own dishes. i mean no disrespect, but why are we getting out a skillet to toast cumin seeds when the heavy bottom stock pot we’re about to use can do that ably? because washing pans is fun? even by standards of fun lowered by 2020, getting extra dishes dirty is nowhere on the fun spectrum. i won’t belabor the point but know that i’ve saved us washing several different pots and pans as well as a few bowls.
with that, let’s leave the skillet in the cabinet and get on with making turkey tomatillo chili!
other turkey chili recipes
ps – if you’re looking for a more traditional turkey chili, i have a slow cooker turkey chili for you. i also have a salsa verde turkey chili, but really, make this turkey tomatillo chili – it’s my new favorite!
turkey tomatillo chili
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 12 fl. oz. (355 ml) hard cider or dark beer
- 2 – 3 pounds (907 – 1361 g.) tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and quartered, see notes
- 3 canned whole chipotle chilies in adobo, see notes
- 2 tablespoons avocado or olive oil
- 3 large onions (roughly 340 g. / 12 oz.), chopped
- ½ cup (14 g. / ½ oz.) chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for serving
- 2 teaspoons finely minced fresh oregano, see notes
- 2 jalapeños (roughly 40 g. / 1 ½ oz.), diced – remove the seeds if you don’t want it to be too spicy; i left them in; see notes
- 3 lbs. (1361 g.) ground turkey
- 1 ½ cups (12 oz. / 360 ml) chicken (or pork) broth
- 8 large (approximately 57 g./ 2 oz.) large cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole
- 1 bay leaf
- 15 ½ oz. (439 g.) canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 4 oz. (113 g.) diced green chili peppers
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced, for serving
- in the same large, heavy bottomed pot that you will later make the chili in, toast the cumin seeds over medium heat, stirring frequently and keeping a close eye on them, until they are fragrant. allow to cool, then grind into a powder (i use a very old (clean) coffee grinder).
- in the now empty pot, bring the cider/beer to a boil, then add the tomatillos. lower the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring a few times and pushing the tomatillos under the liquid as they cook down. once the tomatillos are soft, use a large slotted spoon to transfer them to a blender, leaving the cider/beer in the pot for the moment. add the chipotles and a bit of the adobo sauce to the blender. purée until mostly smooth (ignore the seeds). pour the reserved cider/beer into the blender jar so that the pot is empty once again.
- heat the oil over medium heat, then add the onions. sauté, stirring occasionally, until translucent. add the cilantro, oregano, jalapeños, and cumin. stir and continue to sauté a few more minutes, stirring occasionally.
- add the turkey to the onion mixture, stir to combine, and continue to stir frequently until the turkey all loses its pink color.
- pour the tomatillo mixture and broth into the turkey mixture and add the garlic cloves and bay leaf. bring to a simmer then turn the heat down and simmer uncovered for about an hour and a half, stirring occasionally.
- try your best to find those whole garlic cloves and smash them up a bit and stir into the chili. if they aren’t soft enough to smush with a wooden spoon, keep simmering. once the garlic is mashed in, add the beans and canned green chili peppers and stir to combine.
- simmer for 10 more minutes, then serve hot with additional chopped fresh cilantro and sliced green onions. leftovers are spectacular, and freeze well, should you not care to spend * your * week eating this chili for lunch every day…
chipotle in adobo: the unused portion of chipotle chili in adobo will keep spectacularly in the freezer. i put the unused portion into a little snack size plastic bag, seal the bag, then press the bag so that the contents are flat. pop in the freezer and next time you need chipotle in adobo, you can use a sharp knife to chop off the portion you need while it’s still frozen. (this storage tip works with tomato paste too.)
tomatillos: when selecting tomatillos, look for firm fruits without any soft spots. the papery husk should not be wrinkled or loose. in searching to see how other people conveyed this information without sounding lewd, i also learned that smaller tomatillos are sweeter, so fun facts for all!
fresh oregano: i mean, if you don’t want to buy a whole bunch of fresh oregano to only use 2 teaspoons of it, i’m not going to hold that against you. i suspect the omission would go undetected. see above re: recipe written by someone who hasn’t fully transitioned back to a home kitchen yet.
jalapeños: two things – first, jalapeños keep well in the freezer. i bought a bag when they were on sale, put them in a plastic storage container, and they’ve been great for cooked applications/anything where they don’t need to hold their shape. second, more veins = spicier.
adapted from thanksgiving turkey chili in ruth reichl’s save me the plums: my gourmet memoir (affiliate link).
turkey tomatillo chili
|Amount Per Serving:|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 18.49 g||28.4%|
|Saturated Fat 4.18 g||20.9%|
|Trans Fat 0.18 g|
|Cholesterol 117.39 mg||39.1%|
|Sodium 501.55 mg||20.9%|
|Total Carbohydrate 30.18 g||10.1%|
|Dietary Fiber 6.85 g||27.4%|
|Sugars 7.88 g|
|Protein 41.27 g|
|Vitamin A 24.21 %||Vitamin C 55.56 %|
|Calcium 13.23 %||Iron 31.19 %|
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
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Trees Whitbeck says
We really liked the turkey tomatillo recipe. It is a hit and we will make it again. We made the 8 people version for 2 people, so we have lots to freeze.
It took me about 1 hour to cook the recipe after I had put all ingredients ready to cook and before cutting anything. Substituted white wine for the 12oz hard cider or beer. And we always replace cilantro with parsley because I don’t like cilantro and love parsley. I liked that it used one pot for cooking. I also used the blender as per recipe and a pestle and mortar to smash the fragrant cumin. Also, I would smash the whole garlic a bit with a fork or the flat side of the knife before I put it in the stew, so I wouldn’t have to bother with it afterwards. Bay leaf is easily fished out before serving and the scallions/parsley topping is perfect.
We recommend this recipe and will make it again. The spiciness is just right. Thank you tasty seasons.
tasty seasons says
I’m so glad to hear that you liked it, Trees! The white wine substitution sounds delicious and I’m glad you were undeterred by the cilantro and made the recipe work for you. Thank you for sharing your other tips with all of us and for letting us know how the recipe turned out for you!