Turkey Chili Layered with Smokey Rich Flavors

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Did everyone try the South Beach Diet ten years ago? My close friends and I surely did. I couldn’t imagine starving myself and depriving myself of much of the food they said we couldn’t eat in those first weeks. So, naturally I modified and scoured the internet for food they considered acceptable; turkey chili was top of the list. Soon all my guy friends were ordering batches of it from me on a weekly basis. I don’t think I ever lost weight from the diet, probably didn’t need to at the time, but these guys sure did and they loved the chili.

So here’s my recipe but first, full disclosure: this recipe is kicked up a bit by roasting, sautéing and grilling my veggies before they go in with the turkey just to give them an extra layer of smokey rich flavors. I never did this for the boys back in the day.

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large white onion chopped
  • 1 cup celery stalk finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic oven roasted and chopped
  • 2 pounds ground turkey 70% lean
  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes chopped with seeds kept in
  • 2 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh or dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons of hot Hungarian paprika
  • 2 to 4 small sweet red peppers or 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1 jalapeño pepper (optional)
  • dash or two of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup of flour
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup of bone broth
  • 1 32oz. can of tomato sauce
  • 1 to 2 15 oz. cans of beans depending on your preference (kidney, black or pinto)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In a large heavy pot or dutch oven heat the olive oil and sauté the onions and celery. Fire roast the peppers or grill on pan while oven roasting the garlic. I oven roast the garlic by wrapping it in aluminum foil with a little olive oil and place in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes or so. Once those two are done, add your garlic and peppers to the onions and celery. (You may want to do this ahead of time). Add your spices and herbs and sauté for another 5 minutes until mixed well. Add the ground turkey and cook until lightly brown breaking down the meat with a wooden spoon.

Add the tomatoes, broth and tomato sauce, bringing to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the beans (do not strain) and salt and pepper to taste. Stirring, cook for another 10 minutes. Serve in bowls with grated cheddar, fresh oregano and green onions – or any combination you prefer. I sometimes top mine with homemade tortilla chips and a slice of avocado, lime and cilantro.

I should note that I also like to make my bone broths ahead of time (following Thanksgiving and Christmas I had a lot to work with) and freeze them in ice trays, ziplock bags and repurposed quart containers. I also slow-cooked this for another 4 hours in the oven on low (about 275 degrees Fahrenheit) just to be sure all of those flavors get married, make love and have babies! If you do this too you may want to add another cup of broth, it’s up to you!

I hope you and your friends enjoy this recipe as much as we will tomorrow in the snow!

Happy eating and stay warm!

I still get orders for this dish and when I do, I usually get about 4 quarts out of the recipe. I will add more broth as needed if I’m slow cooking it in the oven as liquid tends to evaporate. This batch is filled to the rim and topped with chopped green onions and flat leaf on parsley!!

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Mommy’s Juicy Chicken Recipe

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This dish is totally delicious and juicy, just like it’s name.  The secret is in the basting.   Gigi used to say, “Yeah, its mommy’s juicy chicken for dinner!” and that’s how it got it’s name.  Back then I took the whole chicken and cut it into parts and that added an additional hour to my work.  Now my kids are big enough to eat half a chicken each, so no need to do all that carving of raw chicken – unless I’m catering for a friend’s kid birthday party, then it tends to look more like this:

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Ingredients:

    • 1 tablespoon each of fresh rosemary, sage, thyme and basil, chopped
    • juice of two lemons (save the skins for the cavity of the chicken)
    • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • half a stick of butter cut into tablespoons
    • 1 large clove of garlic or 3 small cloves
    • ½ teaspoon turmeric
    • ½ teaspoon paprika
    • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
    • sea salt and black crushed pepper
    • ½ yellow onion
    • 1 celery stalk cut into quarters

Directions:

  1. Salt and pepper chicken and cover in the refrigerator for about an hour while mixing marinade.
  2. Mix all herbs and spices with olive oil, lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of butter in glass bowl or measuring cup. Let melt to room temperature or melt in the microwave a few seconds.  Let stand.
  3. Roast garlic in a wrap of tin foil at 400 in the oven with a dash of olive oil. Add to the olive oil, herb mixture and smash.  Take chicken out of the refrigerator and pour marinade over chicken.
  4. Take the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and insert under the skin of the chicken breast.
  5. Take onion, celery and the lemon halves and stuff inside the cavity of the chicken.
  6. Cover in plastic and return to fridge for at least an hour or overnight.

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High heat method (this creates a crispy, darker skin):

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) and cook whole (thawed) chicken for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and roast for 20 minutes per pound.  Today’s chicken is 7 pounds!

Here are some little personal preferences I do:

  1. I usually cover my chicken with aluminum foil and baste every 20-30 minutes for extra juicy chicken but then you’re doing a dance between crispy and not crispy enough skin.
  2. If you cover your chicken during cooking, remove foil for the last hour (at least) and turn the broiler on at the end and cook for about 3-5 minutes, keeping a careful eye on it.  Also, you can never baste too much, in my opinion.

Other tips for my girls I snagged from the All Recipe’s website Roast Chicken Tips:

How to Tell When Your Chicken Is Done

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Regardless of the method used, a whole chicken is ready when a meat thermometer inserted into the inner thigh (close to but not touching the thigh bone) reads at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C).

  • The temperature of the meat will continue to rise slightly when you pull it out of the oven (this is called “carryover cooking”), so if the thermometer shows a few degrees below the target, give it a few minutes–the internal temperature might still rise to at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C).
  • When you remove the chicken from the oven, cover it loosely with a doubled sheet of aluminum foil, and let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing. This redistributes the juices and results in moister chicken.

Now that my chicken is done, I’m going to head out to the airport and pick that little girl in an adolescence body up from the airport.  She’s home for the holidays after a stressful two weeks of finals at BU!  I hope she still loves “Mommy’s Juicy Chicken!”

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Delicious Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Nothing like the toasty goodness of sweet and salty brussels sprouts, oven roasted and served over barley with shaved grana padana and lemon.  Jason’s been working all day repairing a wall in the kitchen that suffered greatly last rainy season and I’m trapped in the office doing a close reading of The Death of Ivan Ilyich, by Leo Tolstoy.  So a couple of things have been brewing here.  Firstly, our appetites and secondly, the mound of paint brushes, spackle tubs, dust and plastic covering over my spices , silverware and dishes.

To squelch the first tide, I squeezed into the fridge, dug out of the vegetable drawer the first thing I could grab.  Out came my little martian heads (that’s what I call them) and I grabbed a bag of barley from under the plastic (E.T. phone home).  Into my mini rice-cooker from my dorm days at I-House went 1 cup of pearl barley (just enough for the two of us) and 2 cups cold water, turned that on and wriggled my way to the kitchen sink where I washed and trimmed the sprouts.

Using a glass Pyrex roasting dish, I tossed the little heads into the pan with 1/4 cup shaved almonds, 1/8 cup dried cranberries, about 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, Portuguese sea salt, pepper, 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper, 1 tbsp. brown sugar and half the juice of a juicy Meyer’s lemon.  I’d already pre-heated my oven to 400° F so I just put the pan in the oven and set my timer for 35 minutes.

If you do this just the way I did, scattered and all, your barley should be done around the same time as your brussels sprouts.  From here I just fluffed my barley with 1 tbsp. unsalted butter, served into 2 pasta dishes and set aside.  Taking my sprouts out of the oven, I sprinkled a pinch of sea salt over them and dished them up over the barley.  Topping all of this toasty goodness, I shaved my favorite Italian hard cheese, grana padano, over each dish.

This proved to be the perfect late afternoon, pick-me-up snack for the two of us.  It’s full of nutrients and vitamins and the barley is a great way to keep my tummy from rumbling because it has to work hard to digest.

Jason is the first to admit to my girlfriend Laura, that he is a lucky man to have someone who cooks for him daily.  That being said,  I too must admit, that I am a very lucky woman to have such a handsome and loyal customer to cook for.