Turkey Chili in the time of coronavirus is a creative invention that is born of whatever happens to be in the pantry and refrigerator, which makes it just all the more delicious and satisfying to eat.

This Turkey Chili actually was created after a failed attempt at making clam chowder. Last weekend we had grand idea of using up the frozen quahogs we had clammed ourselves last summer to create a hearty meal. I’d found a recipe in an old cookbook called The New Basics. We defrosted the clams (still in the shell) overnight. We dug out the decade old clam opening tool. We consulted the in-laws on how best to cook. Geordie was cracking them open one by one and preserving only the choicest meat when one clam emitted quite a foul odor. Geordie gagged. And that was that. We weren’t going to send the family to the E.R. because we took a chance on some clams that were taking up too much room in our deep freeze. So instead, I made Turkey Chili.

The base of this turkey chili was somewhat typical, consisting of a very large yellow onion, some baby carrots, celery and a green pepper. I also added in garlic and a fresno and jalapeño chili. Did I mention how obsessed I am with fresno chili? It is something about the sweetness that comes with the heat that has me swooning. Not that I strongly favor fresnos over jalapeños. They have their distinct flavor and heat profiles, the fresno being slightly hotter and definitely sweeter than the jalapeño. I discovered it a couple of years ago making a Smitten Kitchen recipe and since then I’ve been hooked. Next time you can find one at your grocer, which may be tomorrow or 2 months from now because it really is a crap shoot what you find these days, definitely try it and add it to your chili.

After cooking the veggie base for a while, I added in about 2 lbs of ground turkey, an Instacart replacement for the ground beef I had ordered from Costco. I combined that with 1/2 lb of Jimmy Dean sausage, the only sausage my husband could find at Stop & Shop. You can easily use whatever sausage you have on hand. My guess is a good sweet italian sausage would make this even better.

Then I added an assortment of spices, using up the last of my smoked paprika (!!) as well as my last tbsp of tomato paste (if you have two tbsp use it). And in went a little white wine because we always seem to have an open bottle around these days. Just about 1/2 cup. I let it simmer down for about 5 minutes. Next went some cocoa, some bone broth and the tomatoes, a large can whole peeled and a small can of diced, again because that is what I had in my pantry. And finally, in went my last can of black beans and a can of garbanzo beans. I would have thought my resourceful hubby would have stocked up on beans as part of his efforts to prepare for the zombie apocalypse, but alas no. That is what he did during the hurricane season about 8 years ago. And now we didn’t have any of those cans left. Instead we have two pallets of the finest tuna money can buy and whole lot of Campbell’s soup. So my last can of black beans that I had dug out from the deep depths of the pantry after a good 10 minutes of looking went into my chili. I now will have to wait for my palette of 12 cans of black beans to arrive from Amazon hopefully before the month of May. Although I must say that I will be using garbanzo beans in my chili again even if the world somehow returns to normal. They hold up well through the simmer time and don’t turn to mush, which other beans can sometimes do.

And the simmer time is important. Once you get your concoction up to a boil, reduce the heat to low and let it cook uncovered for at least 90 minutes. Then cover and cook it for another 90 minutes. Of course, if you are hungry for lunch because it happens to be well after two because you failed at your attempt to make clam chowder, by all means scoop out a bowl for yourself after even 60 minutes. It will still taste good. But it will be even better if you let it simmer.

I don’t have a lot to offer on the state of affairs of things these days. I am sort of losing my mind. I suppose we all are. I will say I was enormously thankful for the beautiful day yesterday. We took a family bike ride. We sunned ourselves on our porch. We grilled two meals outside and ate there too. We talked of how we hoped to get our little boat in the water soon. I danced to Vampire Weekend with my son and closed my eyes and imagined good friends were with me there too. We had a Saturday dinner fit for kings without the usual guests. We blew our horns at 7 pm for the first responders. I dreamed of seeing the ocean again. Despite being a short drive to the beach, I have not laid eyes on Long Island Sound in 6 weeks because the beaches are closed here. But now I am obsessed with finding a quiet time to drive to that Atlantic and see it in all its glory. Perhaps I will make that my quest today even in the rain after doing some cooking for the week.

Until then, go make yourself your own chili or stew in this time of coronavirus. Leverage what you’ve got. Dig deep into that pantry. Let the creative juices flow. And definitely let it simmer. Taking guest blog posts!


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery, chopped
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno chili, chopped
  • 1 fresno chili, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3 tbsp ancho chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Aleppo (or crushed red) pepper
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1-2 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 2 lbs ground turkey
  • 1/2 lb sausage (casing removed)
  • 2 tbsp cocoa
  • 1/2 cup of white wine
  • 1 28 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken stock or bone broth
  • 1 15 oz can of black beans
  • 1 15 oz can of garbanzo beans
  • Sour cream
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Shredded cheese


  1. Heat oil until smoking. Add onion, carrots, celery, green peppers, jalapeño, fresno chili. Sauté for 10-12 minutes until softened. Add garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes more.
  2. Add ancho chili powder, cumin, oregano, Aleppo pepper, smoked paprika, salt and tomato paste. Mix together for a minute.
  3. Add while white and let the liquid reduce to almost nothing for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add ground turkey and sausage and saute until the meat is cooked through.
  5. Finally, add the cocoa, tomatoes, chicken broth and beans.
  6. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low and let simmer for 90 minutes uncovered.
  7. Simmer for 1-2 hours more at low heat.
  8. Ladle into chili bowls and top of sour cream, cilantro and shredded cheese.
%d bloggers like this: