Turkey Ancho Chili

by Heather on November 9, 2012

Is it just me or has this past week literally flown by?  I used to say that I loved it when weeks would fly by and then we’d suddenly arrive at t the weekend, but after yesterday’s post and the realization of my baby being 8 months old I think I’d like to have time slow down.  I’m so excited to have Nate at home for the next 2 days, getting my hair done by a new friend, and watching football.  These are the things that great weekends are made of!

So this chili:  first of all, it’s so so very good.  It’s also sort of time intensive, but y’all – it’s so good.  Plus it makes a massive batch that you can freeze half of for a later date or just eat the leftovers during the week.  In that regard it’s actually a perfect weekend undertaking when we have the time to really focus on the “work” of making a really great dinner.


One of the things I really love about cooking and baking in general is that it’s so therapeutic.  Sure, sometimes it can be a pain and we just want to get dinner on the table already, but I actually enjoy when I can take the time to watch vegetables brown while I saute them.  I like trying new things like caramelizing tomato paste (DO THIS).  I like long, intensive recipes that yield massive flavor and warm comfort for us.  I think it’s impossible to feel this way about every meal, but the times that I get to sit back and enjoy the process?  Yes. Please.


This recipe has all of those components: reconstituting dried chiles.  Thoroughly browning the vegetables, meat and tomato paste.  Slow-cooking so that the flavors really truly come together.  Serving it in big shallow bowls with all the fixin’s.  Savoring the melded flavors.


Therapy at its finest!


  • 2 lbs ground turkey (I used the kind with the higher fat content – sorry, can’t remember the ratio!)
  • 5 dried ancho chiles
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 3 carrots
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 ounces tomato paste (the big can)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 heaping Tbsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • salt & pepper
  • toppings & fixin’s: cheese, sour cream, green onions, cornbread, oyster crackers, whatever you like!

This is a fairly time-intensive chili but I promise the big flavor is worth it!  Plus it makes a lot, so you can really feed a crowd or have tons of leftovers.


First things first, reconstitute the ancho chiles by bringing 4 cups of water to a boil, removing from the heat and immersing the chiles in it.  I placed a bowl in the pot to keep the chiles under the hot water, then placed a lid over that and let them sit for about 30 minutes.  While they’re reconstituting do a really rough chop of the onion, carrots, and celery.  Place those vegetables in a food processor and process until really finely chopped (almost a paste).  Heat a large soup pot over medium heat and cook the vegetable paste in a little bit of olive oil until very brown while stirring constantly.  Next, add the turkey and brown while stirring constantly.  Salt everything liberally (about 2 tsp) and season with pepper.  When the turkey is cooked through and brown, add the tomato paste and continue to brown – you want the tomato paste to reach a deep burnt red color.  Pour in 2 cups of water and scrape all of the brown bits off of the bottom of the pan.  Let this reduce until the water is almost, gone, then add the remaining 2 cups.  Stir in the garlic, chili powder, paprika, cumin, and cocoa powder.  Let the mixture reduce until the liquid is almost gone.  Now cover it by about an inch of water, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the chili is thick and rich (about an hour).**  Check for seasoning and add more salt & pepper if needed.  Serve hot!


**You can also pour the chile into a crockpot at this point to simmer away for a few hours if you don’t have time to babysit the stove. I’ve done this – set it on low for about 4 hours – and it was just as delicious!**

Yesterday I was reading this post from sweet Kelley and wanted to join in the efforts.  There’s also a fabulous bake sale being hosted by Gina, and all proceeds go to help victims of Hurricane Sandy.  I encourage everyone to help in some way to help the victims of this massive storm – through prayer, volunteering, or donating – however you see fit!

  • Red Cross is provides food, shelter, and other forms of support to hurricane victims. You can donate directly to the Red Cross (by clicking on the Red Cross badge), or you can also text the word “Redcross” to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
  • Salvation Army is focused on providing food, shelter, and support to victims that have been evacuated or lost their homes.
  • Feeding America is providing food, water and supplies to those who need it as part of their disaster relief program.

You can follow the hashtag #FBS4Sandy on Twitter and Instagram to see other food bloggers comfort food recipes.


Looking for something encouraging to do this holiday season? Pack a box for a child in need!

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