Golden Chili employs Latin American culinary tricks

Golden Chili employs Latin American culinary tricks


I can now pose as a chili strategist.


On a Super Bowl Sunday some years ago I took first prize at a rowdy Atlanta sports bar’s well-attended chili competition. My winning entry was a “white” chili (no tomatoes, red chile powder or red or green bell peppers, but plenty of ground turkey, Habanero peppers, white beans and cream). For that occasion I dubbed it “Hot Blond Chili.” It easily beat the pack of red chilis of beef, tomatoes and beans, which had to compete with each other while my oddball chili with the macho name got the crowd’s and the judges’ attention.


Last year, I again tried the ploy of submitting something different in a chili competition in Athens. My “Golden Chili” again stood out from the crowd. Unfortunately, the judges this time were looking for the best traditional chili -- red with beef and pinto or, possibly, black beans. I got nowhere, as did several wonderful green chili entries.

I’ll try again in another chili cook-off and hope for different judging criteria. Meanwhile, my current version of Golden Chili scores with members of my family. So here it is.

Generally, I don’t use bouillon-type cubes or other pre-mixed commercial seasonings in cooking. But Mexican and other Latin American cooks do use them, to give that “little extra” to their rice and bean dishes. So “When in Rome – or maybe in Ciudad Reynosa….” In this chili I use “Sazón Goya” (available in the Latin American food section of supermarkets) and “Achiote Condimentado” (at Mexican groceries), along with more standard ingredients.

The recipe serves six.

1 medium-large onion, finely chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 pound ground turkey (85% lean)
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 packet Sazón Goya (see above)
2-1/2 teaspoons Achiote Condimentado (see above)
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon (or more) cayenne or dry pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/2 cup water plus more as needed
2 (14-ounce) cans great northern beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup sour cream
Crumbled “queso blanco” or “cotija” (Mexican-style crumbling cheese) for serving, optional

Fry onion in olive oil until it softens and begins to turn golden. Reduce heat. Add garlic and fry 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add ground turkey, increase the heat, and fry, breaking up the meat, until raw color is gone. Add diced orange bell pepper, seasonings and salt. Stir and fry briefly, then add the water.

Simmer covered, stirring occasionally, for about ten minutes, adding a little water as needed, so there is always a bit of liquid with the meat. Add drained beans. Heat together for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and add salt if needed. Stir in sour cream and simmer several minutes. Taste for salt at end of cooking.

The chili is best made ahead and reheated to serve. Sprinkle lightly with crumbled Mexican-type cheese, if desired.

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