Monday, September 23, 2013

Chili con [un poco] carne

This adapted version of my chili con carne is sure to please, and red meat lovers won't even notice what's missing! If you're a chili lover, you've probably tried using ground turkey instead of ground beef. Here, I took this idea to a new level: I stretched the ground turkey with bulgur. Honestly, I couldn't even tell the difference in the final product.

Here's the general idea: cook the bulgur with a fair amount of salt, cayenne pepper, and chili powder. Once it's cooked, brown the ground turkey and stir in the bulgur as you do. Then treat the whole mixture like it's ground beef! In general, 1 cup uncooked bulgur can substitute for 1 lb ground beef or ground turkey. In this recipe, I used ~1.2 "lbs" meat - a little over half of that was actually meat. I got this idea from Thrifty Jinxy, which contains a "stretch your sloppy joe" recipe using the same concept.

1/2 cup bulgur
1 cup water
2-3 serrano peppers (other hot peppers could also work here, I'm just growing serranos)
1/2 large onion
3 cloves of garlic
0.7 lb ground turkey
1.5-2 lb kidney beans (you can mix in other beans, as well)
28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes OR 2/3 can of crushed tomatoes and one small (14-15 oz. can diced)
Cayenne peppers/cayenne pepper flakes/ground cayenne pepper (~1 tsp, to taste)
Chili powder (~1 tbsp, to taste)
Cumin (~1/4 tsp, to taste)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook the bulgur (1/2 cup bulgur+1 cup water+seasoning to taste). This doesn't contain any real raw meat, so you can taste it as you season. Set aside.

Saute the onions, then add the serrano peppers. Add a generous shake of chili powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper powder (to taste). Add the minced garlic just before adding the ground turkey. Chop the turkey with your cooking utensil as it starts to brown, and then add the cooked bulgur. Cook the turkey completely (so there is no more pink). Add ~1/2 the crushed tomatoes. 

If you're cooking this in a Dutch Oven, you'll add everything to the same pot. If you're using a crock pot, remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes. Fill your crock pot with the kidney beans and the rest of the tomatoes (I used a combination of crushed and diced because I like a little bit of tomato chunks in my chili). These things should be room temperature. Pour your cooked mixture on top. I'm paranoid about cracking my crock pot by adding hot food to the cold stoneware, so I try to pour into the middle so the hot mixture doesn't touch the sides until it's had a chance to cool.

Put your pan back on the heat, and rinse the crushed tomato can into the pan (with water). Use this water to clean all the grit stuck to your pan. This stuff tastes good, and you don't want to lose it. Pour this mixture into the crock pot, too.

Stir it all up. Taste it! Add salt, pepper, cumin, cayenne pepper, and chili powder to taste. Keep in mind that you will be adding some green bell pepper later.

Cook for ~3 hours on high or ~6 hours on low. If you're doing this in a Dutch Oven, your cook time will depend on the temperature, but 1.5 hours should be enough. NOW add the chopped bell pepper. It will look like a lot, but that's because it's bright green. The color will dull as it cooks. Cook for another 30 minutes-1 hour, and serve!

Initial ingredients (except some of the spices). Green peppers come later! The bulgur is already cooked (in the pot) in this picture.
After sauteeing the onions, serranos, garlic, meat, and bulgur
For comparison, this is what just ground turkey and bulgur looks like (without the onion and peppers, etc.)
After the tomatoes
"Cleaning the pan to capture all the remaining flavor
At the start of cooking, no bell peppers yet
A quick tip for crock pot cooking with canned goods: keep an empty tomato can next to the crock pot to store your spoon. Wait to recycle it until you're finished.
Add the green peppers 
The green peppers will fade with cooking
I served mine with some chopped scallions and homemade bread, but cheese and/or tortilla chips are always winners in the world of chili, too!

And if your husband complains that it doesn't taste meaty enough (which will ONLY happen if he sees what you put in it), you could try adding a bit of beef stock instead of water when you deglaze the pan. I think next time I'll use ground beef instead of ground turkey (but still use half bulgur) to give it a beef flavor.

A quick piece of advice: if you're serving this to a large group where you don't know everyone (like a community event), make sure you indicate that your chili contains wheat. With so many allergies these days, you can't be too careful, and it's not something that people will assume.


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