Faith's Favorite Slow-Cooker Turkey Chili with Dark Chocolate

Sep 25, 2013

Credit Justin Smith/flickr creative commons

What makes a chili unforgettable? When the meat and the right combo of spices are cooked slowly enough to make them melt into the sauce. This is the recipe that makes that happen, and the unsweetened cocoa powder addition is masterful, adding dark, dusky flavor.

I first discovered this recipe in Cooking Slow, by Andrew Schloss,  a highly respected cookbook author, whose new book features recipes "for slowing down and cooking more." You'll find dishes made by roasting, braising, baking, grilling, frying and steaming. Lucky for us, there's a whole section on using a slow cooker.

Senior contributor Chris Prosperi of Metro Bis Restaurant in Simsbury, Ct., whipped up my favorite turkey chili, and why wouldn't I ask him to? He has nine, and I'm not kidding, nine slow cookers.

If you have a crowd coming for movie night, football, or simply to get together, this is your dish.

Below, after directions on making the chili, you'll find Andrew's recipe for making your own Limoncello, which is usually expensive in stores, and makes a good holiday present. And you'll find my recommendation for a great, inexpensive wine to go with this fantastic turkey chili.

Cooking Slow: Recipes for Slowing Down and Cooking More by Andrew Schloss

Slow-Cooked Turkey Chili


Serves 6

(Note from Faith: When a recipe calls for many spices, why should it cost a fortune? For mere pennies, you can buy twice the amount needed for your recipe at your local health food store. It's best if their spices are kept in covered bins.)

Prep time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 4 to 8 hours Store: for up to 3 days, covered in the refrigerator. Reheat gently in a low oven or over low heat.

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large Spanish onion, chopped
1 fresh long red chile or serrano chile, seeded and minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 lb/910 g ground turkey
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp ground cumin seed
1 tsp dried oregano, preferably Mexican
2 tbsp chili powder
¼ cup/35 g cornmeal
1 qt/960 ml Chicken Broth 
One 28-oz/800-g can crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
Two 15-oz/430-g cans small white, black, or red beans, drained and rinsed
¼ cup/10 g chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat the oven to 200°F/95°C.


  1. In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until it softens, about 4 minutes. Add the chile and garlic and sauté briefly until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the turkey and season generously with salt and pepper. Sauté, chopping and scraping with a spatula to separate the chunks of ground meat and to help it cook evenly. 
  2. When the turkey is mostly cooked, add the cumin, oregano, chili powder, and cornmeal and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is aromatic, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken broth, tomatoes, and cocoa powder. Stir until the mixture simmers and the cocoa dissolves. Stir in the beans and cover the pot. Transfer to the oven and cook until the meat is very soft and the flavors are very fragrant, 4 to 8 hours.
  3. Just before serving, taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Stir in the cilantro and serve.

In a slow cooker Follow the recipe, but transfer the chili to a 6-qt/5.7-l slow cooker after the beans are added. Cook on low for 5 to 7 hours.

Make Your Own Limoncello Liquer

This lemon-flavored liquer is a star in Southern Italy, and has become a darling of bartenders who use it to create slam-bang cocktails, including the Lemon Drop Martini. Whether you sip icy limoncello after a meal, or use it for cocktail night, you'll never find as easier way to make it yourself. All you need are vodka and lemons. Thanks again to Andrew Schloss, whose terrific book, Cooking Slow, features this recipe.

Andrew doesn't use juice from the lemons, but I do add the juice of one or two lemons, which makes the limoncello become icy in the freezer where I keep it. (I take it out for 15 minutes before serving.) And I recommend using organic lemons because the recipe calls for zest, a scraping of the surface of the rind.

Buy some pretty bottles, use your computer to make labels, and you have homemade gifts ready to go for the holidays, or as a host gift when you're invited to dinner.

Andrew's Homemade Limoncello


Makes about 5 cups/serves 20

1 cup freshly grated lemon zest (from about 8 lemons)
(Faith sets aside the juice of two lemons to use in this recipe)
3 cups vodka
1 cup sugar


  1. Combine the lemon zest and 1 ½ cups of the vodka in a 2-qt. glass bottle or jar with a tight-fitting lid. (Faith likes to add the lemon juice here.) Seal and store in a cool, dark place until well flavored, for 1 week, shaking the jar every few days.
  2. When the lemon vodka is ready, combine the sugar and 2 cups of water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Add to the bottle along with the remaining 1 ½ cups vodka. Seal and store in the same way for another week. 
  3. Strain out the lemon zest before using.

Recipes taken from Cooking Slow: Recipes for Slowing Down and Cooking More
Published by Chronicle Books 2013


One of Faith's Favorite Fall Wines

This Italian red, Maraia Barbera, is a great Autumn sipper, and a tremendous value considering the price -- $10-12. I taste red berry fruit, vanilla and oak. It's perfect that "Maraia" means little rascal, because this rascal would be delicious with turkey, chili, roasts, and burgers with cheddar or gouda.

If it's not on the shelf at your local wine store, simply tell them the distributor of Maraia Barbera is Frederick Wildman & Sons.

Faith's Part of the 10 Percent CTGrown Campaign.
You can join her in committing to spend 10 percent of your grocery dollars on CTGrown products

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  • Chris Prosperi - senior contributor and chef/owner, Metro Bis, Simsbury
  • Andrew Schloss - author of Cooking Slow: Recipes for Slowing Down and Cooking More