Thursday, October 27, 2011

Crock Pot Tequila-Lime Turkey Chili

Not to sound like a total lush, but I really really missed margaritas when I was pregnant.  And it's not like I drank them all the time before, but knowing that I couldn't have one made me want one that much more.  Forbidden fruit and all, I guess.  I finally got to enjoy one when Smith was a few weeks old, and it was deeelicious. 

This chili is a basic turkey chili, but with the added flavors of tequila and lime - kind of a "margarita chili" if you will.  But way less weird than it may sound.  The tequila is definitely subtle, but it adds a great depth of flavor.  And the addition of lime juice and zest adds a nice bright freshness.

This is a pretty standard crock pot chili recipe, but in true America's Test Kitchen style, it does have a few unorthodox ingredients and steps.  The ground turkey is mixed with a paste that's made with milk and bread, called a panade, before it is browned.  This helps keep the meat tender throughout the long cooking time.  In order to boost the meaty flavor, soy sauce is added.  Honey helps to bring out a little sweetness from the tequila.  And the tequila is added in two places:  at the onset of cooking, to infuse the chili with a great base of flavor, and then again just before serving to give it a nice finish. Feel free to add a "floater" to your individual portion if the mood strikes. ;-)

We really liked this chili - it had just enough spice to keep it interesting, with just a touch of sweetness.  The leftovers just got better as the week went on, and I enjoyed it for lunch every day.  Any time I can get away with tequila at noon is a good day by me!

Tequila-Lime Turkey Chili
adapted from America's Test Kitchen, Slow Cooker Revolution
  • 1 slice sandwich bread, torn into pieces
  • 2 Tbs milk (lowfat is fine)
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, ribs and seeds remove, minced
  • 2 Tbs chili powder
  • 2 Tbs tomato paste
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp minced fresh oregano, or 1/2 tsp dried
  • 1 15-oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 14.5-oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15-oz) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup tequila, plus more as needed
  • 2 Tbs low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs honey
  • 1 tsp minced chipotle en adobo
  • 1 tsp grated lime zest
  • 1 Tbs fresh lime juice, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
For serving:
  • fresh cilantro
  • Pepperjack cheese
  • diced avocado
  • tortilla chips
Mash the bread and milk into a paste in a large bowl using a fork.  Mix in the ground turkey, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  add the onion, bell pepper, and jalapeno, and cook until they are softened, 5-7 minutes. Add the chili powder, tomato paste, garlic, cumin, and oregano and cook an additional 3-5 minutes.

Stir in the turkey and cook, breaking up any large pieces with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 3-5 minutes.  Stir in the tomato sauce, scraping up any browned bits.  Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker.

To the slow cooker, add the diced tomatoes with their juices, beans, 3 tablespoons of the tequila, soy sauce, honey, and chipotles.  Cover and cook on low until the turkey is tender, 4 to 6 hours.

Turn off the slow cooker and allow the chili to settle about 5 minutes.  Use a large spoon to skim the fat off the surface.  Break up any remaining large pieces of turkey with a spoon.  Stir in the remaining tequila, lime zest, lime juice, and cilantro.  Taste and season with additional salt, pepper, tequila, and lime juice as desired. 


Rebecca said...

Yum! Can't wait to give it a try! I see so many ingredients that I love... chipotle in adobo, cilantro, jalapeños, and, well... tequila - of course! I'm sure I'll miss margaritas too ~ whenever that preggers day comes!

Michelle said...

How interesting! I could never in a million years have come up with this combination, but it sounds brilliant!

Blog is the New Black said...

The ingredients sound AMAZING! YUM!

Kelsey said...

Love this idea! Thanks for sharing, Josie!

danellesdish said...

This looks so good! I love putting a fun spin on chili and can't wait to try this.

Olson said...

So funny.. my little lady was born very close to Smith, and I just had my first margarita a few days ago and made some similar soup in the crockpot - I wish I had had this recipe, however .. because it sounds glorious! It's making the list! Thanks for sharing..
Nicole at

Elena said...

A great recipe for my special dinner with my sister.

nicole said...

I had to pin this! I love anything with lime! and the tequila helps too!

Kristen | Pixelated Crumb said...

Wow. We made for dinner tonight and it was fantastic. Love the tequila and I'm very much looking forward to lunch tomorrow ;)

Anonymous said...

Although it sounds fabulous, anything that requires pre-cooking of so many ingredients does not qualify as a proper slow-cooker recipe. imho.

Josie said...

Anonymous, As long as it's cooked in the slow cooker, it qualifies as a "proper slow cooker meal" in my opinion. I'm sure it could easily be adapted to the stovetop though.

annies home said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jennifer said...

My mom gave me a slow cooker for my birthday a few months ago, and I finally broke it in yesterday with this recipe. It was soooooo good! Thanks for the post!

Josie said...

Jennifer, I'm so glad you liked it!

Winnie said...

This sounds amazing. I can't wait to try it. I have been eating more turkey and chicken so this is great for me. Not to mention my love for Marguaritas and lime.. Thank you..will try it for sure.

Angela @ AnotherBitePlease said...

I just made this tonight for dinner and it was SO good. My husband even enjoyed with the ground turkey. Love this tequila lime twist taste on typical chili. Sooooo YUMMY!!!

Winnie said...

I had to stop and write back and tell you I made this tonight in my crockpot and it was a big hit! I just love it, and love that I have it now in small containers in the freezer! I am even sharing one portion with a coworker tomorrow as he was intrigued when I told him what I was cooking today. Thank you so much.

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