Recipe: “Don’t be a turkey 4-bean chili”

It’s chili time!

Catamount Chili Contest poster2Yesterday, I took part in a chili cook-off at Catamount Ski here in Hillsdale. This incredibly busy ski resort repeated one of their most popular events, inviting over 20 local chefs and amateurs to compete for prizes and bragging rights. It only cost each guest $5 to taste all of the dishes, and the competitors each paid $10 to enter. All of these proceeds went to the Roe Jan Food Pantry.

The Tavern was absolutely packed, with diners, skiers, cooks and even members of the press. We all lined up proudly with our chili creations in front of us, doling out samples to hundreds of people. Each taster was given 3 dried kidney beans as voting tokens,  dropping them in the glasses in front of each of our pots as signs of appreciation.

IMG_0105[1]The variety of chilis was amazing! I only got to try a few, but I heard that there was a version with venison, one vegetarian, one with pork from a pig that the gentleman raised himself (!), along with mine that I named “Don’t be a Turkey 4-Bean Chili” (recipe below). The local supermarket was there with their very spicy concoction (which I have had before — it’s good).  I spotted one competitor in a chef’s uniform and a Stetson… I really wanted to try his but couldn’t get away from my spot.

The pork guy, Jay, was getting a lot of compliments and collecting beans fast. But then I started getting a wave of people coming over to vote for mine, and in fact, I had one fellow come back and ask for seconds because he loved it so much!  My hopes started rising… would I actually win the top prize, a season pass to Catamount??

tshirtWe gave out samples for over 2 hours, bopping along with the live music from the Brown Paper Bag Band, sipping pale ale, and just enjoying the excitement of the event. Everyone started to run out of chili so the contest finally closed down, and the official came around to count all of the beans. I got 27 votes! But was it enough to beat the guy in the chef’s outfit?

Sadly, no. I came in 4th place and won a great t-shirt from Barrington Brewery, complete with a yellow triangle on the back proclaiming “Beer Crossing“.

With a 4th place finish,  can I still claim that “Don’t be a Turkey 4-Bean Chili” is an award-winning recipe? turkey chili

(makes about 4 quarts)

3T olive oil
2 lbs ground turkey (*see end of the post for vegetarian alternatives)2 large yellow onions, medium diced
5 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 small can tomato paste
2 green peppers, seeded and medium diced
1 red pepper, seeded and medium diced
1 19oz can red kidney beans, with liquid
1 19oz can white cannelini beans, with liquid
1 19oz can black beans, with liquid
1 19oz can chickpeas, with liquid
1 35oz can whole peeled tomatoes, broken up
1 35oz can crushed tomatoes
1T “Feisty Fiesta” spice blend, bold version (or 1T regular plus 1/2 tsp cayenne)
1T smoked paprika
3/4 tsp smoked salt
1/4 cup canned or jarred jalapenos, finely diced (or us 2 fresh ones) plus 1T of the liquid the jalapenos are packed in
2T brown sugar
2T black molasses
1 fresh lime (or 1T lime juice)


Brown the turkey in the olive oil until dark.
Add the onion and garlic, stirring often, until soft.
Add all of the remaining ingredients except the lime, stirring well to combine.
Set heat to low, and simmer for at least one hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
You can stop here and save it for serving the next day, or add the lime juice and serve now.  Optional:  add grated sharp cheddar and/or a dollop of sour cream.

 * for a vegetarian version, you can omit the turkey and replace it with 2 cups of cooked brown rice.


Posted on February 18, 2013, in Events, Feisty Fiesta, Main dish, Soup and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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