Standing over the stove, I picked up my wooden spoon for a tiny sample. Pleasantly surprised by what I tasted, I put the spoon down, replaced the lid on the pot and walked away. Two minutes later I found myself back in front of the stove. Maybe it needs more spices, I reasoned. I had to taste again. No, no more spices. I walked away…again.
This game continued for a while. I wouldn’t let the chili simmer in peace. With each visit to the stove I rewarded myself with another bite, each succeeding one bigger than the last. Finally, I had to admit to myself that I was no longer “just tasting”–I had shamelessly begun to eat right out of the pot.
I couldn’t help it–this was my first time ever making chili and I have Liren at Kitchen Confidante to thank for it. When she posted this chicken chili on her blog I had to have some, too, but I couldn’t just invite myself over. Besides, it was a cold, rainy day–perfect conditions to try to make my own.
But instead of following a traditional recipe, I decided to try a variation that has always intrigued me–white chili. It gets its name from the absence of tomatoes in the dish. White beans, clear stock, and/or poultry are the typical main ingredients, contributing to its paler color. Admittedly, my version doesn’t look that light but it’s still paler than a traditional chili.
After comparing a few recipes online, I learned that other ingredients appear to be staples in white chili: ground cumin, diced green chiles, chili powder, etc. I settled on this recipe from Elise at Simply Recipes, making some tweaks with preparation and ingredient proportions along the way to suit me.
I will share, though, that what interested me most about this particular recipe was the use of ground cloves. I did not notice it in the others I consulted but I liked the sound of it. In the end, the cloves are what made this a winner for me. I had whole cloves which I ground for this so the spice added a vibrant finish to the chili. Paired with the cumin, they added a richness without overpowering the other ingredients. I even used very lean ground turkey breast meat and canned canellini beans but the chili was still quite flavorful. The possibilities for toppings are endless but ultimately I chose cilantro, yogurt (I had no sour cream), jalapeños, chopped tomatoes and pepper jack cheese. Next time, avocados and chopped onions will join the party. I was very happy with my first chili attempt and I am glad that there is plenty left of winter to allow me to enjoy it again.
White Turkey Chili
* Adapted from Simply Recipes
- 1 1/4 pound ground turkey breast meat
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (the lesser amount did not add much heat)
- 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
- Salt, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (if you use freshly ground cloves like I did, the flavor will be more prominent)
- 2 pinches dried tarragon
- 3 cans cannellini beans (or other white bean)
- 2 4-oz cans diced green chilies
- 4 cups stock (I used chicken)
- Olive oil
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- sour cream (or yogurt)
- monterey jack cheese
- Chopped jalapeño peppers
- Chopped tomatoes
- Diced avocado
- Chopped onions
- In a large pot, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions until they become translucent, about 2 minutes then add the ground turkey. Cook this mixture until the meat is no longer red then add the spices from the cumin to the tarragon in the list above.
- Add the diced green chilies, beans and stock. Bring the mixture to a boil then simmer for about one hour.
- Ladle in bowls and garnish with preferred toppings.