Sweet Turkey Chili with Corn, Kidney Beans, and Kale

Sweet Turkey Chili with Corn, Kidney Beans, and Kale // Queen Smithereen.

This is not your typical chili. And it’s funny, because when my Boo tried it, he asked why I didn’t make it like the other chili I’ve concocted in the past (don’t worry, those recipes will be shared eventually, too). And while I could easily make a delicious, Tex Mex chili by only slightly altering the recipe here, I find that I don’t want to. In fact, I taste-tested this chili to see if it needed additional seasoning, and found myself instead pouring a bowl of it, right on the spot. Perhaps to you this is a normal response, but it is truly atypical behavior for me. Usually, I make soup or stew or chili and I refrigerate it immediately, with every intention of eating it once the flavors have had several hours to meld. The thing is, this chili didn’t need to meld! It was immediately perfect, and what I liked most was that it felt clean.

Chili can go in unhealthy directions very quickly, as I am sure you may know. I wince a little when I recall times spent in restaurants watching friends and family spoon cheesy, goopy, greasy chili into their mouths. Especially when the healthier option is, in my opinion, tastier. This recipe is more like vegetable-packed comfort food. And while it does combine spices that are typical for chili recipes, it’s slightly sweeter and more wholesome. I blame the brown sugar.

The choice to add kale is entirely yours because it can be a preferential ingredient, and its omission doesn’t take away from the dish. (Edited February 2016: I have since noted the garlic as optional, as well, because sulfite-sensitivity is unpleasant, and I get that.) In fact, I think the only thing that is not negotiable about this recipe is the way it is intended to be eaten, which is in your pajamas, curled up on the couch, with either a good book or a good movie to keep you company.

Sweet Turkey Chili with Corn, Kidney Beans, and Kale
Serves 6-8

1 tbsp olive oil
16 oz ground turkey breast
salt and pepper, to taste
1 red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, chopped (optional)
2 red bell peppers, diced
1 15-16 oz can corn, drained
1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp ground oregano
¼ tsp cayenne
1 15-16 oz can kidney beans, drained
1 15-16 oz can tomato sauce
2 cups veggie broth
1 cup kale, shredded (optional)

Heat oil in a large pot on medium high heat. Add turkey breast and season with salt and pepper. Saute, breaking apart with a spoon, until the turkey appears cooked through and browned, about 6-8 minutes. Turn heat down to medium and stir in onion, garlic, and bell peppers. Sauté until onions are translucent, then add corn and spices and stir until mixture is coated. Stir in beans and kale, then add sauce and broth. Return heat to medium-high until the mixture boils, then reduce to simmer on medium low until the mixture has thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve. To store, refrigerate in an airtight container for up to four days.

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