Thirty Minute Thursdays: Cajun Turkey Chili & Cornbread

I don’t make soup all that often, but I do make chili. I’ve even made it in the dead-heat of summer in an un-air-conditioned beach house, so it’s not uncommon for me to bring this well-loved dish into the warmer months. To me, it’s one of the perfect comfort foods, and unlike lasagna, macaroni-and-cheese, fried chicken and cream of ____ soup, it doesn’t have to kill your good dietary intentions – that means it earns double points in my book. I can only indulge in heavy, cheesy casseroles so often before I feel like my stomach is a bag of bricks – mushy, cheesy bricks.

Now that we’ve established that image, let’s get back to the task at hand – this turkey chili adapted from Rachael Ray. It’s simple, though not the kind of simple I was talking about on Tuesday. It’s got some heat behind it, enough to make me smile but not enough to make my mom push her bowl away politely. It was also really fast and easy to make, and keeps the dirty dishes to a minimum (a must if you’ve ever witnessed the aftermath of my cooking endeavors). The only change I would make would be to get rid of some (or all) of the turkey and swap in some crumbled tofu and beans. I’m not-so-slowly moving towards total veggie-dom, so lately I’ve been treating meat as a side dish. In this meal, it’s definitely the main ingredient, and I know some people will like that. It does keep it low-carb, if that interests you. Plus, I think ground turkey breast is some of the leanest meat out there (the original called for ground pork), so if you’re up for omnivorism, it’s still a pretty healthy choice. We can’t all be veggie-vores, right?

I made a healthy cornbread for dunking/topping/side-ing, after Rachael’s recipe instructed me to make corn cakes via a box mix. Right. So I thought it’d be the perfect opportunity to try one of the several cornbread recipes I have saved, and figured starting off with a healthy one would be good. The recipe comes from Food Stories, and it has several perks – it’s vegan (not that that matters if you’re pairing it with a turkey chili like I did – though it does mean my dad, who doesn’t mix meat and dairy, could enjoy it), easy to make, and does taste like cornbread. However, there is no mistaking this for its full-fat, full-sugar, down-home-cookin’ original. It tastes healthy, so I’m still on a hunt for a spot-on recipe. But this is good to keep in your back pocket. All I did to change the recipe was to add chives (as Rachael asked me to – or, well, she asked me to add scallions and I said absolutely not, I don’t have any, but I do have chives) and reduce the baking time to 15 minutes (all it needed). It finished baking just as I was finishing up with the chili, so dinner was ready in one fell swoop.

Two Years Ago: Grilled Herbed Turkey

Turkey Chili with Cornbread
This chili is definitely for meat lovers, but it uses a hefty serving of vegetables and spice to deepen the flavor. It’s comforting enough for winter and light enough for even moderate summers, proving that there just may be no better meal than chili.

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

The Ingredients
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 ⅓ pounds ground turkey breast
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
hot sauce, to taste
½ medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 rib celery, chopped
½ red bell pepper, chopped
½ green bell pepper, chopped
½ beer bottle1
14 ounces crushed tomatoes
1 batch CJ’s Vegan Cornbread, chopped chives mixed into batter before baking

The Method
Heat a large skillet with the olive oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add in the ground turkey. Season with chili powder, cumin, and hot sauce and cook, breaking up the meat as you go, 5 minutes. Once most of the pink is gone from the meat, add in the onion, garlic, celery, and peppers; continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes.  Pour in the beer and use it to scrape up anything that has stuck to the bottom of the pan, then stir in the tomatoes. Allow the chili to come to a boil, then lower to a simmer for 5 minutes before ladling into bowls to serve with the cornbread.

Source, adapted: Rachael Ray’s Classic 30 Minute Meals

1I used a Hoegarten – it was either that or Corona, and L (since I know nothing about beer except that the only 2 I’ve ever tolerated are Guinness and some coffee-flavored winter flavor) recommended the Hoegarten. He was also responsible for drinking the other half, so I decided his opinion mattered on this one.

I also want to say that I had the honor of being one of Lauren (of NutriSavvy)’s 15 nominees for the Versatile Blogging Award! There’s a whole bunch of fun questions and pay-it-forward type nominations that I’m supposed to do, but I didn’t do a Thirty Minute Thursday post last week so I wanted to at least get today’s entry in. I will spend the next day or so thinking about all of the amazing food bloggers I watch (some from afar, admittedly), and be back. I just wanted to make sure I thanked Lauren before too many days went by! And if you haven’t checked out her blog, you should!

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