Halloween night. Sports team parties. Potlucks. This weeknight chili recipe sees a lot of action in our kitchen. It’s super versatile, easy, fast and savory.
The best part is you can make this chili with either ground beef or ground turkey, canned kidney or pinto beans or no beans at all (just double the meat). Make it in a big pot on the stove, or in a slow cooker or Instant Pot. I’ve tripled the recipe with great results, and you can easily freeze leftovers.
Adjust the red chili flakes and hot sauce to the preference of your eaters, or better yet let your crew add hot sauce to their bowl after the chili is dished up.
It may seem strange that there’s no cumin or chili powder in this recipe, but trust me and go with it. As my kids get older, I may sneak in some chipotle paste or ground d’arbol chili or ancho chili powder, but until then we’re keeping it simple and kid-friendly.
Don’t rush the hour this soup simmers on the stove and reduces. Flavors meld and come together, the base thickens and the chili goes to the next dimension. If you make this in your slow cooker or Instant Pot and the base of the chili looks “soupy” use an immersion blender or potato masher to break up any bigger chunks of tomatoes and ground meat. You don’t want to puree the chili, just thicken the base and help the chili come together.
To sneak in more vegetables, serve in pre-baked squash or sweet potatoes. Leftovers can be made into chili nachos or tucked into a lazy Saturday morning omelette.
Prep all the toppings so they’re ready to go: Grated sharp white cheddar, diced green or red onions, thinly sliced or julienned radish, pickled jalapeños, cilantro and sour cream or thick Greek yogurt. We always have our rice cooker going when a pot of chili is on, and everyone in my family likes their chili dished up over a scoop of sticky rice. You could make brown rice or quinoa to up the nutritional quotient, but don’t tell on us because we like good ol’ sticky rice.
Beef or Turkey Chili
- 2 slices bacon chopped
- 1 yellow onion chopped
- 1 green bell pepper chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 ½ pounds ground beef preferably grassfed, 85-90% fat , ground bison or dark meat ground turkey (double the meat if you omit the beans)
- 1 large can 28 oz. whole tomatoes, no juice, tomatoes broken up with your hands or cut up before adding to the pot
- 1 can 15 oz. tomato sauce
- 1 or 2 large cans red kidney beans drained and rinsed (optional)
- ½-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper to taste
- A few dashes of Tabasco or Crystal brand hot sauce optional
- In a large heavy-bottomed pot, such as a Le Creuset, cook the bacon until the fat separates and renders, about 3 minutes. Add the onion and bell pepper to the bacon fat and cook until softened, about two minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and stir for about 30 seconds more.
- Add the meat to the pot, breaking it up as you stir it. Add a generous sprinkling of salt, about a teaspoon and a half, and cook until the meat looses its pink color.
- Add remaining ingredients and stir. Cook, uncovered, on the stovetop on medium-low heat for 1 hour. Add a few dashes of hot sauce and taste for salt before serving.