Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Big Bowl

In preparation for today's game, I did some research regarding the much-contested perfect turkey chili recipe. I'm not going to get into all of the debate between north, south, east, and west regarding what should or should not go into a good chili. Suffice to say I sifted through my own cookbooks and supplemented what I learned from books with information from the Internet.

My first book of attack was, of course, the Gourmet tome, Ruth Reichl's staggering collection of international recipes that will teach you how to make just about anything. Her chili recipe had some interesting components. For one, she used tomatillos, rather than tomatoes, as her base, making her chili green, like a salsa verde. Also, she cooked up four pounds (yes, you read that right) of turkey for her soup, which, in my estimation, couldn't have been much of a soup--or even stew--at all. I liked her use of real chiles, in this case reconstituted anchos, which are poblanos when they're fresh. But I wanted a more traditional version.

So here's what I did: I cooked up one and a half pounds of ground turkey, because that seemed like more than enough. I seasoned it with salt and pepper and put it to the side for later use. In olive oil, I sweated down one Spanish onion, one green bell pepper, one fresh poblano pepper, and one fresh jalapeno (seeds and ribs removed) with a little salt until they were translucent. I then added my seasoning, four cloves chopped garlic, one tablespoon cayenne, two tablespoons chili powder, one tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes, and one tablespoon cumin. I cooked the seasoning in for a few minutes. Then, I added two large cans of crushed tomatoes, one can of tomato paste, 3/4 cup of chicken stock, one tablespoon of kosher salt, a healthy helping of fresh ground pepper, one teaspoon of dried oregano, a can of cooked and drained kidney beans, a squeeze of fresh lime juice, one cup of frozen corn, and two chopped tomatillos.

I brought the chili to a simmer and let it cook for about an hour, by which time my kitchen was utterly destroyed from splattering tomato goo. At the end, I added a few tablespoons of light sour cream for a creamier texture. Before I serve it this afternoon, I will top it with shredded cheddar and fresh parsley.

It is a fairly hot chili and also, notably, a very healthy chili, weighing in at approximately 2,000 calories for the whole pot (it will likely serve 8, or at least 6), making it the ultimate guilt-free Superbowl snack. It seemed appropriate to use the vegetables of the southwestern United States--tomatoes, tomatillos, hot and mild peppers, corn, onions--for this particular bowl, in which Arizona, the quintessential southwestern state, will be playing.

As for the rest of the cooking, well, I'll leave that to my friends.

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