December 8, 2009

A Recipe for Robbie

I'm not much of a cook. The stuff I make is edible, and sometimes pretty good, but only sometimes. I'm good enough that I could improve on about half the "casual dining" meals I eat, but not so good that anyone would go out of their way to eat my cooking. I watch the Food Channel just like I used to read Hot Rod magazine: that is, if I ever become one of the idle rich, I'll roll up to the farmer's market in a cherry '69 Goat & go home & whip up Sharri a real Hot Brown. In the meantime, I'll settle for my Maxx and the po' boy Hot Browns I throw down on Thanksgiving. I'd love to have FRESH INGREDIENTS and all the time and tools in the world to be a badass cook, but it ain't happenin' . . . and yeah, I know that the guitar doesn't make the guitarist, but you do tend to get just a little circumscribed by the contents of both your wallet and the Kroger across the street. In the best of all possible worlds, the stuff would go straight from the fields to a roadside stand very close to my house and be affordable to boot, but this is very far from the best of all possible worlds. Besides, it seems to me that such concerns have lately taken on a bit of a bourgeois tinge . . . are you listening, Anthony Bourdain?

With that in mind, here's a chili recipe. I adapted it from a South Beach black bean turkey chili recipe (rendered immediately non-carb friendly with the addition of beer). It's not Bobby Flay good, but it's not bad. The main thing is that it is quick, easy, and super cheap, especially if you leave out the beer. You can whip this up in about ten minutes, and let it cook for as little as twenty (a little more is better). Is it good eats, Alton? Who knows, and who cares. It's better than spaghetti O's, cheaper than McDonald's, and healthier than Taco Bell. This is how I eat.


1 lb. ground turkey
2 fresh jalapenos, seeded, deviened, and diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
2 4 oz. cans of diced jalapenos
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
2 14 oz cans tomatoes, undrained
1 16 oz jar chunky salsa
2 15 oz cans black beans, rinsed
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch ground cloves
1 tablespoon onion powder
half a beer (approx. 6 oz)

Put oil in large fryer over medium heat. Add garlic and diced fresh jalapenos; “sweat” them (sauté for approx. 3-5 minutes, DO NOT LET GARLIC BROWN). Add ground turkey, cook until just brown. Add one 4 oz. can of jalapenos, stir together. Add tomatoes, salsa, black beans, stir together, increase heat, bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, add soy sauce, salt, and spices, stir together, cover. Cook at least 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beer (to brighten flavor) and, if you like your chili on the hot side, add the second 4 oz. can of diced jalapenos. Cook covered, stirring frequently, for another 20 minutes.

NOTES: The salsa you use for this recipe is very important, since it provides much of the flavor base. Keep in mind that good “chip salsa” is not necessarily the best salsa for this recipe. So far, the best salsa I’ve used is Kroger’s “Private Stock” Chipolte Salsa (medium heat).

Avoid extra additives to your canned tomatoes (such as onions or peppers), since there is already a wide variety of spices in this recipe.

Use a “bright flavored” beer for this recipe, such as a pale ale (Sierra Nevada Celebration ale worked very well). A darker, “chewy” beer such as Guinness would not work as well.

This is a relatively hot (spicy) recipe. For those of you with more sensitive constitutions, it tastes OK without any of the peppers.

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