Monday, October 31, 2011

Turkey and Black Bean Chili with Chipotle & Chocolate

Oh Hallows Eve.  The night of ghouls and goblins; princesses and pirates; the tricksters and the treaters. The Jack O' Lanterns are all aglow on my porch and as I'm writing this I'm also jumping up to hand out some Jolly Ranchers into the kids' various candy receptacles.  So far my favourite was this little fire fighter, complete with black smudge on his face.  He got an extra package for creativity and good manners.  My candy stash is running low, and I swear I never even tucked into them beforehand.  I prefer my candy to be of the chocolate variety, though that's not much of a shocker, is it?

Thinking of Halloweens past, I remember some years, trudging through what felt like knee deep snow to get the sweet stuff.  We had to wear our snowsuits over our costumes, but we didn't care.  There was candy to be had at the end of our snowy trek.  When we were lucky enough to get whole chocolate bars placed in our pillowcases  I made a mental note to return to that address the following year.  Bless those most generous people!  Then of course we'd get the homemade popcorn ball people, and no one ever ate the popcorn balls, did they?  Me and my siblings would do the whole candy swapping thing:  my Double Bubble for your Molasses Kisses (am I the only one who adored those?!) and my bag of chips for your Crispy Crunch.  Ah the bartering of young sugar fiends.  I was never one of those kids, like my older brother, who could hold onto their loot until Easter.  Self control - an admirable quality, that.   Happy someone in my family got it!

Most years, after we'd tricked and treated our little hearts out, I remember coming into a warm house and Mom having a pot of chili on the stove. We may have already had a belly full of sugar, but still we sat down together, tucking into bowls of chili and dishing on whose house gave the best/most/worst candy, and who made us sing for it.  The chili was pretty standard ground beef and beans type, nothing too wild and crazy, but comforting and delicious all the same.  Somehow I don't think Mom put chipotle or chocolate in hers though...

So you're probably wondering about the chocolate in the chili.  For real?  Yes, for real.  And it's just a couple of tablespoons of cocoa, and it adds an earthy richness that plays off the subtle smokiness of the chipotle so well.  It kind of makes the chili smolder.  Have you ever seen Like Water for Chocolate, or read the book?  There's a scene where turkey mole is being prepared, with all kinds of spices and toasted almonds and sesame seeds being ground up then added to chunks of turkey along with chopped dark chocolate.  It's probably one of my favourite movies about food, and that scene alone is memorable.  I remember being in a dark theatre, watching all of this beauty unfold on screen and it was unforgettable.  And that was almost 20 (gasp!) years ago.  If you like movies about food, do watch it, okay?

Spicy/sweet/salty is one of my favourite flavour combos, and it rocks this chili.  I used organic ground turkey (but you can use beef if you like) and threw some roasted corn and black beans in for fun.  The chipotle pepper I used was ground, but you could use some canned in adobo sauce too.  Or in a pinch, just use good old chili powder, but the flavour won't be the same.  Chili needs toppings and I adore cilantro on mine, along with sour cream and shredded cheese.  And hello!  Avocado!  When you get a bite of the spicy sweet with the buttery avocado, it really is a bowl full of awesome.  Sometimes I scoop the chili up with tortilla chips...chili heaven.  Besides being super flavourful, it's also high in protein, and not super fatty.  I love making a big batch of this chili and freezing it for evenings when I don't want to cook - yes, that does happen!

The vampires and dragons have come and gone; my Jack O' Lanterns have faded to black.  I did run out of candy and had to dip into my emergency stash of Lindt truffles.  One lucky little giraffe scored big time!  Maybe I'll be on her list as the house to hit up next year - though I saw how big the Mom's eyes got when I put a few of those babies in the giraffe's pillowcase.  There's going to be some candy snitching tonight!

Some Happy News!  I'm super flattered to be this week's featured blog on the Food Bloggers of Canada website.  This recognition has left me pretty much beaming and I'm truly honoured by their kind words.  Thank you FBC! 

Turkey and Black Bean Chili with Chipotle and Chocolate

650 grams ground turkey
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp canola oil
2 tsp ground chipotle pepper OR 1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce OR 2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp oregano
1-2 tsp chili flakes, depending on how spicy you like your chili
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 1/2 tbsp honey
2 398 ml cans of crushed tomatoes
1 398 ml can of diced tomatoes
2 540ml cans of black beans, rinsed well
1 cup of corn frozen or roasted (place frozen corn on bake sheet, drizzle with olive oil and roast until golden)
salt and pepper to taste
cilantro, avocado, sour cream, shredded cheese, tortilla chips for garnish

In a large pot, cook the ground turkey.  If it seems too dry, add the oil.  When brown, add the diced onion and garlic.  Cook until the onion is softened, then add all of the spices and honey.  Cook this with the meat for a few minutes.  Add the canned tomatoes and bring up any browned bits from the bottom. (I always rinse the cans out with a little water and add this too.)  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.  Add the canned beans, and roasted corn.  Simmer 10 more minutes.  Adjust seasonings.  Spoon into bowls and garnish as you like...don't forget the avocado!  Serves about 6. 


  1. I've never thought about putting cocoa in chili before but I'm going to try it - sounds delicious!

  2. Congrats on your feature! I think your addition of cocoa to the chili is fantastic. Smoky chipotle and cocoa are a great combo. Yum.

  3. Interesting this chili with cocoa...something new to try...thanks for this recipe Renee and hope you are having a wonderful week :-)

  4. That is so wonderful that you were featured on the Food Bloggers of Canada website - I can totally see why. Great photos and this chili looks delicious!

  5. Adding cocoa to chili is really wonderful!! It would give a great volume and colour to the dish. Loved your style.

  6. Congrats- how exciting! Also, that is a terrific looking chili. I loved Like Water for Chocolate- both the book and movie. Speaking of moles- one of the best things about living in Texas is sampling amazing moles at every authentic, interior Mex place I go. There are so many great variations!

  7. Bonjour !!
    I've made this OH SO DELICIOUS chili yesterday and it was a real succes ! The best chili I ever ate ! Thank you so much for this recipe :)


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