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the best part of fall

Sacramento shines in fall. Unlike summer when the sticky heat makes everyone crazy, fall seems to awaken and energy everybody. I never thought I’d admit this but I am truly blessed to live in California, especially in Sacramento. I love the seasonality this region experiences, and I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t see and feel the seasons passing by. To see the trees bloom in spring then shed their leaves in early fall is like watching magic right before your eyes. Watching children play in the sprinkles then run around the neighborhood all bundled up in the winter is highly entertaining. With  both beaches and snow only two hours away, you could say I’m spoiled.

One reason why I really love fall in Sacramento is that while our days are pretty mild with temperatures ranging in the mid to high 70’s, our night lows dip in to the 40’s to 50’s. Cold enough to bundle up with a comforter, but warm enough to wear a skirt without tights and not freeze. Warm enough to take daily walks without a sweater but cold enough to enjoy this hearty red bean chilli, feeling its warmth in every pore of your body.

This recipe comes from Elise a la Simply Recipes. She is a fellow Sacramento blogger and I have yet to meet her but if I could, I would tell her thank you for building such a reliable recipe collection. Need to know about braising pork? Find it here. Curious about toasting pumpkin seeds? She knows how.  I spent all day at work (ssshh) trying to find THE recipe for chilli. The ultimate, spicy-without-burning-my-tongue-off, hearty-but-overly-fatty, ground-turkey-appropriate. I had given up, thinking that my dream chili existed only in my subconscious. Until I stumbled upon Elise’s recipe.

Thick without being overly heavy, spicy with a hint of sweetness, and a great with a slice of cornbread or my go-to dipper, thick and crusty sourdough. I used lean ground turkey since I’m off beef but substituting beef in this recipe would work wonders I’m sure. I find ground turkey to be dry at times so I was ultra paranoid about browning it without drying it out. Thankfully, soaking and stewing the turkey with the tomatoes prevents any dryness.

My mom proclaimed that this might be the greatest dish ever. What can I say, she is a simple woman and is very easy to please. What I liked about this recipe is it’s deep flavor, how fast it came together and how pantry friendly is is. Elise knows how to balance spices in her dishes so that they don’t overpower you yet they leave that curious taste in your mouth. The chili literally came together in less than an hour, and if you have more patience than I do, I bet letting it all simmer together longer would make it ten times better. But I lack any patience and I was hungry so I dug right in after 30 minutes of simmering. The minute I tasted the sweet tomatoes and perfectly cooked ground turkey, I was sold. With a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of cheese, this is a great weeknight dinner, especially after a long, cold day.

Other notable chili recipes that I will eventually try out are Deb’s chili, and Molly’s chili-esque black bean soup. For now, I’ve found my go-to chili recipe but try it out and let me know what you think. Have you entered chili nirvana?

Turkey Chili

Origin: Elise.com
Yield: Makes about 12 cups. Serves 8.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients:
● 2 cups chopped onion
● 4 garlic cloves, chopped fine
● 1 cup chopped green pepper
● 1/4 cup olive oil
● 2 (35 oz) cans stewed tomatoes, crushed
● 2 (15 oz) cans kidney beans, drained
● 2 Tbsp tomato paste
● 3/4 cup chicken or turkey stock
● 2 Tbsp chili powder (or up to 4 Tbsp if you like it really hot)
● 1 Tbsp ground cumin
● 1 Tbsp dried hot red pepper flakes
● 1 tsp. dried oregano
● 1 Tbsp salt, plus more if desired to taste
● 1/2 tsp. black pepper
● 3 to 4 cups of shredded, cooked turkey meat
● Sugar
● Shredded cheddar cheese, chopped red onion, sour cream for optional garnish.

Directions:
In a large, 8-quart, thick-bottom pot, cook the onion and green pepper over medium high heat, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for a minute or two more. Add a bit more olive oil if needed.
Add tomatoes, tomato paste, stock. beans, oregano, salt, pepper, and cooked turkey meat. Bring mixture to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, for an hour.
Salt to taste. Add 1 to 3 teaspoons of sugar to take the edge of the acidity of the tomatoes if desired.
The chili may be made in advance and chilled for 2 days, or frozen for 2 months.
Serve with shredded cheddar cheese, chopped red onion, and or sour cream. Serve alone, over rice, or with corn bread.

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November 7, 2008 - 8:35 am

amy - i love sac in the fall, too! the crisp nights with the window open, the leaves changing outside my downtown apartment…it’s lovely. this chili looks amazing; i made another recipe this week and it was ok, but this looks incredible.

thanks for your beautiful writing. enjoy your weekend.

November 7, 2008 - 12:09 pm

cindy - i miss california in the fall…i grew up in vacaville.

this chili sounds amazing and just right for the season.

November 7, 2008 - 1:57 pm

maris - making chili is definitely one of my favorite parts of fall! great recipe and photos – thanks for posting!

November 7, 2008 - 6:05 pm

Megan - This looks delicious and flavorful!

November 7, 2008 - 6:36 pm

Ann - Oooh I love that brown tablecloth (?) – where did you get it!?

November 8, 2008 - 6:49 am

Merily - I love the picture, it looks so delicious!

November 8, 2008 - 3:03 pm

megan - i love chili! i can’t wait to go home for Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks from school and get my lovely mommy to make some for me :) talk about comfort food and the perfect thing for this crisp fall weather! your recipe sounds great!

November 25, 2008 - 12:18 pm

Sophie - I love cooking with ground turkey and using it in chili, this looks super tasty. Chili and stews are the best Fall foods, hands down :).

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