Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cherries Part 2 - Turkey Cherry Chili

I just noticed my last post didn't have a title. That sucks.  I could have come up with something catchy and alliteration-y like all my pumpkin posts.  Cheery Cherries?  Cherry Chow?  Cherries for Chomping.  That's the one.  Let's just pretend I called it that!

This recipe kind of started out as a joke.  Mondays tend to be "crock pot" day in the house, and I was looking at what I had on hand and what I could make with it, and with cherries, and this just sort of developed.  Even after I decided I was actually going through with it, I wasn't sure that it was going to work.  I called my husband on the way home from work (a bad day at work, on top of that) to ask him to open up the crock pot and make sure what was cooking was actually food.  There was, in my opinion, a good chance that I was stopping at Gold Rush Chicken on my way home.  (BTW, fellow Milwaukeeans, Gold Rush is the best chicken in the whole world.  Quite possibly the only restaurant I have endorsed so far on this website.  It is not good for you.  I'm sure they're not buying local chicken.  You will probably regret it the next day.  But SO good!!!  Make sure you put the bag the chicken comes in into a plastic bag before putting it in your car, or you will have a grease stain on your car seat!)

But it was food.  It was good food!  It was good, hearty, Wisconsin-y food.  I'm really pretty damn proud of how good it is.  A good entry for the contest... except that it didn't taste like cherries.  And, again, I feel like, as on Iron Chef, cherries need to be the star of the show.

So try this.  Don't be afraid of it.  I promise.  It's not as weird as dandelion soup.  None of the ingredients are weeds.  It's a good meal for a cold winter night.  Or, really, a not that cold winter night because it's been pretty warm this winter!

I used butternut squash in this because I don't like beans.  And as far as I'm aware there aren't any WI grown kidney beans.  But I'm sure you could use your favorite beans in place of (or in addition to) the squash.

In my mind, this needed more heat.  My friend Denise (who I do refer to as "Wimpy Spice" because she can't stand anything spicy) thought it was perfect.  I'm pretty sure I will make it again, and when I do I will probably chop up one of the Thai chilies to add some heat.

Turkey Cherry Chili 

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 lb butternut squash, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 cup Cherryland's Best Dried Cherries (you should hear how sarcastic that sounds in my head.)
  • 1 pt homemade (or store bought) chunky spaghetti sauce
  • 2 cups Cherryland's Best Tart Cherry Juice
  • 2 Thai chilies, whole
In a large frying pan over high heat, or crock pot on "brown"setting,  heat up oil and brown onion for about 5 minutes.  Add turkey, season with salt and pepper, and brown for an additional 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add garlic, and continue to cook for 2-3 more minutes.  Transfer to the crock pot, if not already there.  Add squash, dried cherries, spaghetti sauce, and cherry juice, and stir to combine.  Cook on low for 6 hours.

Remove whole chilies before serving. 

I served this over elbow noodles.  I was pretty excited to find there's an organic pasta company in Chicago (less than 100 miles!) who make elbow noodles and tri-colored rotini.  This probably wasn't necessary, but I like pasta in my chili.

This was really thick. If you like a soupier chili, add two cups of turkey or chicken stock.

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