Friday, March 18, 2011

Ancho-Chipotle Turkey Chili

Lately, a lot of you have told me about your desire for some healthier recipes.  Whether it’s upcoming spring break vacations or a desire to refuel those New Year’s resolutions, a lot of you are thinking thinner. And so I have a confession to make.  A few weeks ago I made the decision to get healthier myself. I’m eating less and working out more.  I feel good, and I know I’m going to continue feeling even better.

I’ve held off on telling you guys about this for a couple of reasons.  First, I don’t want to scare any of you away.  I know some of you come here for your butter and sugar fix, and I don’t want you to fear a shift to all “health food” recipes. To you, I say don’t worry.  That’s just not going to happen.  I have no intention of turning this into a diet blog.  I have lots of guilty pleasures saved up waiting to be posted.

I was also afraid to say anything about my healthy-eating plans because the last time I mentioned going on a diet (way back I don’t even remember when), it lasted all of four days. An opportunity to try an El Salvadoran restaurant did me in. We’re talking lots of cheese.  When I fall off the wagon, I tend to fall hard, and that was the end of that!

Eating healthier doesn’t have to mean eating tasteless, boring food. I love the challenge of taking typically less-than-healthy dishes and turning them into guilt-free options I can enjoy without feeling like I’m giving anything up. Take today’s recipe for example. Chili is not always the best choice for cutting back. This one, however, is pretty darn healthy, and it is ridiculously tasty. The recipe uses ground turkey breast, which is virtually fat free, and kicks up the flavor with garlic and onions and lots of spices. There is a fantastic smoky taste from the chiles and a very small amount of bacon. Plus, I enjoyed how this chili is so different from the tomato-laden, bean-filled chili recipes I typically make. If this is what diet food tastes like, sign me up!

One Year Ago: Cheddar Pennies, Slow Cooker Hoisin Beef Stew, and a two-part series on Irish Soda Bread – Part 1 and Part 2

Ancho-Chipotle Turkey Chili
Adapted from Rachael Ray

4 to 5 medium dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
4 oz. bacon, chopped
2 lbs. ground turkey (I used ground turkey breast)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, seeded and finely chopped
1 T. ground cumin
1 T. coriander
1 heaping T. smoked sweet paprika
2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 pinches ground cinnamon
1/4 cup tomato paste
12 oz. bottle Mexican-style beer (I used light Corona.)

Optional Garnishes: shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped cilantro, green onions, avocado

Place the anchos and chicken stock in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring the stock to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer to reconstitute the peppers. (Just let the peppers simmer while you work on the rest of the chili.)

Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and brown until mostly crisp. Use a slotted spoon or spatula to remove the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels. Set aside.

Add the ground turkey to the bacon pot. Brown and crumble the meat, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Add the onions, garlic, chipotle pepper, cumin, coriander, paprika, cocoa powder, and cinnamon. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetable soften, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste, and stir constantly for 1 minute. Stir in the beer and deglaze the pot, scraping any browned bits off the bottom.

Transfer the anchos and the stock to a blender or food processor. Purée the chiles until smooth.

Add the ancho purée to the chili along with the reserved bacon. Simmer over low heat for 20 to 30 minutes, or until thickened.

Serve hot, garnished with the toppings of your choice.

Serves 6.


  1. its a special passion of my hubby and i to make healthier dishes that are delicious from the classics. You would never know it by our menu, but there is a way to lighten up any dish! Love your blog and I will keep reading no matter what direction your recipes take!

  2. lmcniff - Thank you so much. That is very sweet!

  3. The ingrediant list looks divine, Katie! Now I'm wondering where to go for dried ancho chilis here in Huntsville.....that will be my quest for the day!

  4. LC - I found them at my local supermarket - not anywhere fancy! Good luck on your quest :)

  5. I was happily surprised when I found them at our local Publix -- your recipe is simmering as I type -- it smells heavenly! Can't wait for suppertime :-)

  6. I totally support you! You know where I stand on the matter of food, working out, etc. I also get you on being careful about announcing your intentions for fear of falling off the horse. If you're anything like me, which I think you are (a lot), you know what the journey takes. Plus you're an awesome cook, which puts you waaaay ahead of the game.

    PS- this chili looks amazing too!

  7. Monica - Thanks girl. I appreciate your support!



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