Recipe: White Turkey Chili

Chili is a great example of what Alton Brown calls “refrigerator glue” – anything you have leftover from last night’s dinner will probably be a welcome addition to this dish. Use your best judgment – chances are, you probably have some excellent chili ingredients in your fridge at home right now.


  •  1 lb. leftover turkey meat (dark is better but white is fine)
  • 1 14-oz. can beans (whichever type you prefer –  I used red beans)
  • olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced small
  • 2 stalks celery, diced small
  • 2 medium-sized jalapenos (seeded and ribbed), diced small
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 dried arbol or chipotle chiles
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 lemon/lime
  • 1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 14-oz. can sweet corn
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • enough stock/water to cover (should take about three or four cans of low-sodium chicken stock)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • honey
  • shredded cheddar cheese to garnish (optional)
  • cilantro to garnish (optional)


Start with your leftover turkey from Thanksgiving. Chop it into bite-sized chunks, then add it to a medium-sized stock pot with the beans. Add enough water to submerge them, bring to a boil, and lower the heat to low and simmer for 2-3 hours, until the beans are cooked (if they’re dried) and the turkey is fall-apart tender (you should be able to take a piece out and shred it with two forks – if it offers any resistance, simmer it for another 30 minutes and try again.) Once you reach this point, turn off the heat and let it rest while you begin cooking the other ingredients.

In a separate pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat and sauté the onion, celery, and jalapenos for 2-4 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute, just until you can smell it. Crack open the dried chiles in your hands and discard the seeds, then tear them into small pieces and add to the pot. Allow to “bloom” for 30 seconds, then add the tomato paste. Sauté for another thirty seconds, stirring to disperse the paste. Add the paprika, cumin, bay and oregano and sauté for another 30 seconds, or until you can smell the fragrance of the spices. (By now the mixture in the pan should look quite dry.)

Squeeze in the juice of one lemon/lime (either will work) and add the diced tomatoes. As they begin to heat, scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to deglaze, about 1 minute. Add the corn and peas and stir to combine, then add the turkey and beans to the pot along with their cooking liquid. If the mixture isn’t quite covered, add a bit of water or stock to just cover the mixture, then simmer for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Taste, then add salt, pepper, and honey to taste. Serve with shredded cheddar cheese and cilantro, over white rice if you like.

Griffin used some turkey he’d purchased from Country Vittles and pre-cooked before coming to market on Saturday, supplemented with some veggies from the market plus some chunks of Upper Crust sourdough to soak up the last remnants in the pot. The 35 mph winds were pretty intense, so our market chef also had to employ quite a bit of heavy-duty tinfoil (purchased at nearby Giant) to build a makeshift windscreen, but it all worked out and in the end the chili got rave reviews….