Winter Turkey Chili

Last week it suddenly turned into fall around here. The weather cooled off, and the leaves are finally showing some autumn colors (instead of just dropping onto our postage-stamp yard and turning brown). Although last week saw a high temperature of 78 degrees, the brisk autumn weather is here to stay. And I am not exaggerating when I say that this makes me want to eat soup/chili/stew every day of the 3-6

This recipe is officially called “Rose Bowl Chili,” and is one that my husband brought to our marriage (so I call it Dan’s Turkey Chili). As I know it, his friend’s mom used to make this each year while they watched the Rose Bowl. My husband remains fairly particular about this recipe and follows it exactly. I, of course, cannot be bothered to be so particular. (This is why, while we were dating and for the first two years of our marriage, he would make this chili. I was allowed to chop things only.)

The most difficult part of this recipe, for me, is using the butternut squash. In fact, prior to this time, I’ve always used the pre-cut squash from the grocery store. However, once I realized that it was not as difficult as I’d expected to prep the squash, I felt kind of silly that I’d avoided it for so long. In case you feel intimated like I did, here’s a brief tutorial:

1) Chop off the ends of the squash

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2) Peel, using a vegetable peeler. This will take some time and uses some hand/arm muscles that I didn’t know I had, but isn’t difficult. Keep peeling until all you can see is beautiful orange butternut squash.

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3) Cut through the squash in half, where the skinny part meets the fat part. (The skinny part has no seeds, so you won’t have to mess any further with this part.)

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4) Cut the fatter end in half lengthwise, to reveal the seeds. Scoop these out with a spoon and scrape out the spongy flesh; discard all of this – unless you want to save the seeds and toast them or something. I will never, ever have time for that.

5) Chop up the squash for whatever recipe you’re making!

Here’s what you need:

Veggies: Butternut squash, onion, bell peppers, frozen corn. (I used a tomato in place of some tomato sauce, because I had one!)

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Pantry items: Barbeque sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ground cumin, chili powder, tomato sauce, dark beer, beans. (I used red beans here, but the recipe calls for pinto beans. I say, use whatever you’ve got!)

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This chili falls into the more mild of chili recipes, with the turkey and squash bringing lighter chili flavors. I could definitely see this being spiced up with a few chopped jalapenos, or bringing out the meaty-ness with beef replacing the ground turkey. But we like it just the way it is. Best of all – the leftovers might even be better than the original, so make a big pot and freeze your leftovers. Or just eat it all week!

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Dan’s Turkey Chili (a.k.a. Winter Turkey Chili, a.k.a. Rose Bowl Chili)

I’m going to give you the big-pot recipe here, because, seriously, just make a big pot and freeze the leftovers! However, I was unprepared for the big-pot version, because I only had one tray (1.3lbs) of ground turkey. So I halved the recipe, but I’ll include the ingredients you need to make the full version. It serves about 10 hungry people.

3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 cups peeled butternut squash, diced into 1/4 inch chunks (I like to use more than this – up to 3 cups!)

3 pounds ground turkey

1/2 cup barbeque sauce

3 Tablespoons chili powder

1 Tablespoon ground cumin

2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 medium onion, chopped

2 red bell peppers, chopped

2 cups dark beer

1 cup tomato sauce

2 cups pinto beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups frozen corn, thawed

Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add squash and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove squash to a bowl or plate. Add remaining olive oil to the pot. Cook the ground turkey, stirring occasionally until browned. Then, add the cooked squash back into the pot. Add the barbeque sauce, chili powder, cumin, Worcestershire sauce, onion, peppers, beer, tomato sauce and beans. Stir. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat to low or medium low. Continue to simmer about 30 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the thawed corn and cook for an additional 2-4 minutes, until corn is heated. Serve with favorite toppings. (Our included shredded cheddar, sour cream, and sliced avocado. You can also spice it up with hot sauce if you’d prefer an extra kick!)


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