Even though I work at home, or maybe because I do, I love the kind of hybrid slow cooker cooking that involves long periods of don't-bother-it gentle heating interspersed with an occasional lifting of the lid, a stir, an addition here and a taste there. Slow cooker manufacturers emphasize in their instruction manuals that lifting the lid even for a moment can extend the cooking time or jeopardize the safety of the cooking process, but it's simply not true. (I'm saying this for Judy, a long-time reader of The Perfect Pantry, who recently purchased her very first slow cooker.) As with all cooking, a stir once every couple of hours helps to even the cooking and distribute seasonings throughout the dish. To make this slow cooker turkey, black bean and squash chili, start the turkey and squash and let them cook undisturbed for several hours. Then, lift that lid, add the beans, stir, and go away. A couple of hours later, add the rice, stir again, and the dish is done. If you're out all day, you can add the beans at the outset and let them cook with the turkey, but if you're home, don't hesitate to lift, add and stir. In fact, I insist on it!
Slow cooker turkey, black bean and squash chili
From the pantry, you'll need: ground turkey, olive oil, onion, garlic, Ro*Tel, canned green chiles, ground cumin, chili powder, canned chopped tomato, chipotle pepper in adobo, canned black beans, brown rice.
Serves 6, generously.
2 tsp olive oil (or vegetable oil)
1.25 lb ground turkey (I use 93% fat-free)
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 10-oz can Ro*Tel
4-oz can chopped green chiles
8 oz butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp chili powder (I like Penzeys Chili 3000)
1 chipotle pepper in adobo, chopped
1 cup canned chopped tomato
29-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups cooked brown rice
Optional toppings: sliced avocado, grated Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, fresh cilantro leaves
In a large frying pan, heat the oil. Add the turkey, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, and cook until the meat is no longer pink. Transfer the turkey to a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker.
Add the onion, garlic, Ro*Tel, green chiles, squash, cumin, chili powder, chipotle pepper and chopped tomato. Mix well. Cover, and cook on LOW for 3 hours.
Stir in the black beans, and cook for 1-3/4 hours.
Then, stir in the cooked rice, and cook for 15 minutes more.
Serve hot, garnished with your choice of avocado, grated cheese or cilantro (or all three). Or, let cool completely and freeze in air-tight containers.
More turkey chili variations:
Turkey mole chili, from The Perfect Pantry
Smoky turkey chili with chipotle peppers, and black and white beans, from Cookin' Canuck
Pumpkin turkey chili, from Love and Olive Oil
Chipotle turkey chili with butternut squash and Swiss chard, from We are not Martha
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