A Chili in the Air

 It is FREEZING outside! I am so ready for Old Man Winter to take a hike.

But, that's not happening anytime soon, so we must grin and bear it. The best way to make me grin? Try a big bowl of spicy, smoky chili topped with shredded, aged white cheddar and a dollop of sour cream. And don't forget the side of corn bread still warm from the oven, smothered in butter or honey, or both. (Sigh.)

I've been making chili in my slow cooker for years, and I usually don't stray from my basic recipe, but this time around, I mixed it up a little and added some eggplant, paprika, and cinnamon. I think all of the Moroccan cooking has started to influence the other foods I've been making as well...and with tasty results. (I've been putting cinnamon on everything!)

This thick, flavorful chili is hearty and relatively healthy if you leave out the cheese and sour cream (but don't). If there are any leftovers, they'd be great stuffed into a warm burrito or over a scoop of rice with some chopped cilantro. Don't be afraid of the eggplant -- it cooks down and anyone who doesn't like it, won't even know it's in there.

Winter Chili
1 1/2 lbs. ground turkey
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBS plus 1/2 tsp cumin
2 1/2 tsp garlic powder
3 TBS plus 1/2 tsp chili powder
2 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
2 1/2 tsp salt
2 15.5 oz cans kidney beans (or a mix of 1 can black beans and 1 can kidney beans), drained
2  red, yellow or green peppers (or a mix), seeded and diced
1 medium eggplant, stem removed, peeled (leave about 1/4 -1/2 of peel on for color) and diced
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp brown sugar
1 10 oz can diced tomatoes (I like the ones with jalapenos)
1 cup chunky salsa 
1 TBS tomato paste
Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (optional)

To Do:
  • Add the turkey and garlic and 1/2 tsp each of cumin, garlic powder, chili powder, paprika, and salt in a large pan and brown over medium heat.  
  • While the turkey is browning, drain the beans and dice the peppers and eggplant.
  • Drain and discard any liquid from the meat and add the meat to the slow cooker pot.
  • Top with the beans, eggplant and green peppers.
  • Add the rest of the cumin, garlic powder, chili powder, paprika, salt and also the cinnamon and sugar, along with the tomatoes (drained), salsa, and tomato paste. Gently Stir to combine.
  • If you can handle the heat, add a tiny dollop of the peppers in adobo sauce. It adds some smoky heat. But, a little goes a long way. (If you want your chili extra spicy, just put a bottle of hot sauce on the table and add it in when you're served.)
  • Cover your slow cooker and cook for 8 hours on the low setting.  
  • When done, stir to incorporate and adjust seasonings (more salt or cumin perhaps?), top with shredded cheddar, sour cream (or plain yogurt) and corn bread on the side.

Stay warm!