Dad’s Famous Chili

This season is all about traditions, especially when it comes to food. Whenever it starts to get cold here I know that without fail my dad will want to make his chili. I got the text Sunday morning at 9:34 – “Chili is being made today. Call me re timing.” I still can’t get used to my dad to texting me, but I knew this was serious. We decided to start cooking at 4, and as usual I was a little late. I showed up at 4:17 and don’t worry that my dad left me a voice message at 4:16, just as I walked in the door, to see where I was because he needed to start cutting up the vegetables. Like I said, chili making is serious.

He had already arranged a nice display of the ingredients for me to take a picture of. And when I say “nice display” I really mean a smorgasbord. When my dad makes chili he doesn’t just make enough for dinner and leftovers. He makes enough to stock a food pantry (see picture above). He stores it all in glass containers (plastic ones will stain orange) and freezes it. You would think this would last us all year, but it’s generally gone by the end of January. This batch might not even make it until the end of December because my dad is convinced it is “the best chili he has ever made.” I told him it was because I helped out. You’re welcome Daddy.

Dad’s Famous Chili, scaled down to serve 6

  • 2 lbs lean dark ground turkey
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin, plus more to taste
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 1 hatch chile
  • 2 serrano peppers
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • One 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • Two 15 1/2 oz. can kidney beans*
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • Olive oil

*Yes, I am from Texas. And yes, I put beans in my chili. I’m all about Texas pride, but sometimes you just have to get over yourself.

Heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet and cook the turkey until browned. Stir in the 2 tablespoons of cumin while cooking. Using a slotted spoon, set the meat aside and discard the grease. Meanwhile prepare the vegetables (I was given this task while my Dad tended to the meat). I was instructed to quarter the peppers and onions, then shred them in the food processor. We used a lot more peppers and onions, so I think if you want to finely chop them with a knife, that is ok too. In a large pot add a couple tablespoons of olive oil and cook the garlic and onion until the onion has softened. Add the peppers and cook for another 5 minutes. Then add the turkey, diced tomatoes, chili powder, and sugar. Bring to a boil; then reduce the heat and let simmer for at least an hour. You may need to add 1/2 cup of water occasionally if you don’t want the chili too thick. Towards the end add the kidney beans and season with salt and cumin.  The longer you let the chili cook, the more the flavors and spice come out!


One Comment Add yours

  1. Mmm… I see that your dad likes to use a lot of cumin in his chili, too. He uses even more than I do in mine… I might have to make some adjustments. My wife thinks cumin smells like armpits (gasp!) but if you ask me it smells like heaven. When I see chili recipes without cumin, I don’t even give it a try. Chili just isn’t chili without cumin!

    I’m going to try yours out. You’re welcome to try mine, too. I use quite a bit more beans than your dad, but it makes for a thick, hearty chili that keeps you warm all night. 😉 Here’s my spicy chili recipe

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