“Hot Blond” Chili


“Hot Blond” Chili


This is the non-traditional chili that I won overall first prize with years ago at a chili competition at a rowdy sports bar in Atlanta on Super Bowl Sunday. It’s a white chili, with turkey, white beans, sour cream and habanero peppers. While it contains none of the usual red or green ingredients, it’s especially flavorful. It can be made quite hot, depending on the number of habanero peppers it uses. 

The recipe serves six to eight.

1 medium-large onion, finely chopped

2 thick or 3 thin slices (raw) hickory-smoked bacon, finely chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 large cloves garlic, minced

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

3/4 teaspoon ground allspice

3/4 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground annatto seed (“Achiote Molido” at Mexican groceries)

1 or more small whole orange or yellow habanero chile peppers

1-1/2 pounds ground turkey

Water as needed

1-3/4 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste

2 (14-ounce) cans Great Northern beans, drained but not rinsed

1/4 cup sour cream


Grated “Queso Blanco” or “Cotija” (Mexican-style crumbling cheese)

Coarsely chopped cilantro, including part of stems

Fry onion, bacon, and olive oil together until onion softens and begins to turn golden. 

Reduce heat. Add garlic, herbs and spices plus whole habanero(s). Stir and fry one minute. 

Add meat. Raise the heat. Break up meat as it fries. When raw color is gone, stir in 1 cup water plus the salt. Simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until meat is tender, 10-15 minutes. Add a little water if needed, so there is always a bit of liquid with the meat. 

Add the drained beans. Heat together for five minutes, stirring occasionally and adding a little water to keep it moist but not soupy. Taste and add salt if needed. Stir in sour cream and simmer several minutes. Taste for salt at end of cooking and add some if needed. Remove habanero(s). 

The chili is tastiest when made ahead and reheated to serve. 

Sprinkle lightly with crumbled cheese and chopped cilantro for serving.

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