Chili Isn't 'Like Water for Chocolate'

Turkey chili for the masses

My craving for turkey chili this weekend and my desire to view “Like Water for Chocolate” for the 38th or so time since it was released in the 1990s really don’t have much to do with each other — other than the fact that I’m going to subject you to them both. And the fact that I plan to scarf down a bowl or two of the long-simmered goodness while I watch the best movie ever, nestled on the sofa in my orange flannel pajama pants.

If you haven’t seen “Like Water for Chocolate,” get thee to your favorite purveyor of films and prepare yourself to be wooed by a story of forbidden love, lust, sensual cooking, a naked horseback ride with a rebel leader, bitter sisterly rivalry (one’s overly flatulent, one’s all sugar and spice), a demonic mama and the dramatic consequences when one goes without satisfying a heart’s desire for far too long! (one of few exclamation points you will ever see me use)

I can’t wait to watch it. Again. Each time is like the first time. If you don’t believe me, listen to Playboy; the mag called it “erotic and delectable.”

Now on to the feasting portion of this evening’s entertainment. I made my go-to turkey and bean chili this afternoon (adapted from a recipe in the November 1999 issue of Bon Appetit) — it’s simmering on the stove as I write this —and corn muffins to help sop up the meat, the beans, the tomatoes swimming in their spicy — but not too spicy — bath.

This recipe is flexible. I try to balance my weekly intake of fat-laden baked goods by preparing dinners that are hearty but healthy and low-fat. If you prefer ground beef in your chili, make that substitution. If you like more heat, go for it. This recipe provides a good baseline.

I think these red bell peppers deserve a close-up, seeing as I paid $2.90 for two at the local grocer. 
Seems excessive, no?

Hearty Turkey Chili with Beans

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 red bell peppers, diced
8 cloves garlic, minced (I like garlic; use less if you prefer)
2 pounds ground turkey (or other ground protein)
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
3 15-ounce cans kidney beans (or mix of kidney and black beans; I’ve also thrown in chickpeas on occasion), rinsed and drained
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, with their juice
3 cups chicken stock (I use homemade but low-sodium store-bought is fine)
1 smallish handful of chocolate chunks (I use bittersweet)
sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
Heat dutch oven or other large heavy-bottom pot over medium-high flame. Saute onions, peppers and garlic in olive oil until soft. 
Turn heat to high and add ground turkey, breaking it up as it cooks; season with salt and cracked pepper. When browned, add cumin, chili powder and oregano; mix well. 
Cumin, chili powder and oregano at the ready

Add kidney beans, tomatoes, chicken stock and chocolate; stir to combine. Bring chili to a boil. Reduce heat and let chili simmer uncovered for 1 1/4 hours, stirring occasionally. Season to taste and serve with warm corn muffins.
(Recipe yields about 6 dinner-portion servings for robust eaters. Freezes well.)
Bringing it down to a simmer …