Technically, this turkey and white bean chili isn’t chili, as it doesn’t contain chiles or chili powder. It’s really more of a Mediterranean bean stew with turkey sausage and cannellini beans. But what can I say, nicknames stick.
The One and I have been making and enjoying this dish for years—in fact, it’s been in our arsenal for about a decade. What’s great about it is it’s a cinch to make—it takes all of a half-hour—and it’s surprisingly light. When we have weekend guests and don’t want to get bogged down with making six big, heavy meals, we turn to this for a satisfying lunch or a light supper with a salad on the side.
Customarily, chilis and stews are made by first browning the meat and then transferring it to a bowl while cooking the vegetables. Because there’s so little fat in the turkey sausage (and, admit it, they just don’t have that same flavor punch as beef), I like to keep the turkey in the skillet while cooking the vegetables. This does two things: 1.) it really gives the turkey a good browning, which adds flavor, and 2.) it ensures you don’t overcook the red pepper. Oh, and whatever you do, resist the urge to muck this up by adding chili powder (yes, even though it’s called a “chili”). It would ruin the flavor.–David Leite
A Chili By Any Other Name
Chili is chili is chili is chili…except when it’s not. Or something like that. Yes, we’re up to our antics and naming conventions again, calling something chili when technically it’s not really chili. But one taste and you’ll be glad you made it anyways. (Oh, c’mon, just humor us. Or rather, humor David and let him call this “chili.” Look at how excited he is to make it in the below video! We appreciate your understanding and support.)
Turkey and White Bean Chili
- 3 tablespoons olive oil more if needed
- 1 pound sweet Italian turkey sausage casings removed
- 1 medium yellow onion chopped
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 large garlic cloves minced
- One (15.5-ounce) can cannellini beans well-drained
- One (28-ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes undrained, tomatoes chopped
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Swirl 2 tablespoons of the oil into the pan and then add the turkey. Cook, stirring often and breaking up the meat with the edge of a wooden spoon, until the turkey is chunky and nicely browned, about 10 minutes.
- Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over the turkey. Dump in the onion and pepper, sprinkle with the oregano, basil, and thyme, and sauté, stirring often, until the vegetables are just softened, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes more. The bottom of the pan may develop a brown coating—that’s good. It gives a lot of flavor. If it threatens to burn, drizzle in a few tablespoons of water and scrape it up.
- Turn the heat to low and stir in the beans and half of the tomatoes and half their liquid. (Reserve the remaining tomatoes and liquid for a meal stretcher, see Note.) Season with salt and pepper to taste, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
Meal Stretcher NoteUnexpected company? No problem. Add a second can of drained cannellini beans and the remaining chopped tomatoes and their liquid. Simmer the chili until heated through. Serves six, easily.
Originally published March 06, 2010