My Own Turkey Chili Recipe

My son smoked the Thanksgiving turkey this year and it was delicious. With only two of us to eat, we had a lot of leftovers, which I froze.

Now it’s time to make some winter chili, and I broke out the turkey and broth from my freezer to make this recipe tasty.

Turkey chili recipe
My version of chili made with leftover turkey from Thanksgiving

To begin, I got out my LeCrueset Dutch Oven, which I love.

I sautéed lots of green pepper (from my garden) and onions in oil for a few minutes. Then I added chopped garlic and cooked a bit longer. Then I added the turkey broth (thawed), can of organic diced tomatoes, and spices. I chopped the leftover turkey into bite size pieces and threw it in. The spices I used were parsley and basil from my garden. Dried spices would work too. I had bought some jalapeño peppers at the local farm stand so I chopped a small amount of one jalapeño to add some heat.

To begin with uncooked meat, brown it first then remove from the pan.  Add the pepper and onion with oil and sauté.  Add the liquid broth and scrape the bottom of the pan.  Add meat, spices and tomatoes.

It’s really your choice about how hot and spicy you want your chili to be. I like a little heat, but not overwhelming. If you don’t have flavored broth, use broth granules in water. About a cup or 2 is needed depending on the amount of meat, tomatoes and veggies you use. I basically wing it!

Once those ingredients simmer for about an hour, I add the black beans (or kidney beans can be used) with the liquid (I use organic beans only). Then I simmer for at least another half hour.  Don’t add the beans too soon or they will get mushy.

Because our turkey was smoked, this chili has a slight smoky flavor. Between the jalapeño pepper and spices and melding of the flavors while it slow-cooks, it turned out super yummy!

When I make chili or soup I fly by the seat of my pants and add whatever I have on hand or seems to work.

I had made a batch of cornbread (recipe on the cornmeal box) and froze it.  That way I had ready-made cornbread to add to my chili.

Use your freezer.  It’s your best friend.  BTW I froze a serving of this chili to enjoy later.

Thanksgiving Approaches and Here’s Our Dinner Plan

The image above is not from my dinner table but it contains all the necessary items for a decent Thanksgiving meal, in my humble opinion.

My son smokes the turkey on the grill. He just bought his favorite Jack Daniels Wood Smoking Chips which are made from old oak barrels that once held whiskey. The turkey was delicious last year, so I am leaving it up to him. 

This will be our second year together for the holidays and the guest count total is three!  Yes, it’s a small gathering.  So the focus is on the food.

Our dinner planning has begun. Turkey, stuffing and gravy are a given.  It just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without them.  Also high on the list is mashed potatoes, Acorn squash and rolls.  I don’t eat much bread these days, so I will most likely skip adding the rolls to my plate.

Personally I can’t eat any of it without cranberry sauce as an accompaniment.   Last year I made my own cranberry sauce and I will do so again this year.  I added the recipe to this blog so I would remember how to do it.

cranberry sauce
Boiling the cranberries

Another new thing I did last year was to make my own broth. I used the turkey innards / gizzards or whatever all that extra stuff is called that is packed inside a big frozen bird. The broth is used in place of water in gravy and stuffing. And boy does it make a difference in flavor! Any leftover would make an excellent soup stock too.

turkey stock broth
Making Stock

Many people already know to do all of this, but I didn’t grow up with a mother who was a good cook. Most of my life I had to make most of the Thanksgiving meal myself, for my husband and kids. We never had much family around. After all the cooking, serving and eating, I had the clean up.

Thanksgiving meals of old, back when I was growing up and tables had to be pushed together to seat all fo us, the menu was larger. Aunts and grandmothers slaved for days to bring their homemade specialties to the table. Boiled onions, turnips, carrots, homemade breads, and many pies and desserts we included. My grandmother made cookies called monkey faces. There were so many before-dinner appetizers I had to be careful not to fill up.

Our simple menu will also include apple pie which I will make.

I need to find some recipes for after Thanksgiving. Usually sandwiches and soup use up the leftovers nicely. This year we have a new refrigerator which means plenty of room for keeping the carcass until I can use it to make soup stock the next day.

Have a wonderful holiday!