My Chili Recipe

I think I first learned to make chili back in the middle seventies. I was living at my parent’s house (now MY house) in Huntington Beach, California. My mother was God’s own gardener. (ask anyone who knew her) and I was on one of my frequent forays into dieting. This time I think it was Weight Watchers ™ that originally got me thinking along these lines. I was working, at the time, at a record store in Westminster called Music Plus(tm).


The revelation of the original recipe was that you could make chili out of ground turkey. Forget every objection you might have to that as an ingredient, because my chili is thick and rich and nuanced of flavor, containing no fewer than thirteen spices. It’s GOOD It’s FIERCE HOT, and it is pretty much prescription grade therapy for distal neuropathy and rheumatoid arthritis.

You will make the entire dish in a single pot. I use a five quart anti-stick pot to make cleanup easier. You are going to need a number of knives and a cutting board. You are going to need to know how to handle chilies without freaking yourself out. You are going to need to keep a plastic bag nearby to put your discarded items in.

Each time you handle fresh hot chili peppers you will wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Please do not touch your eyes or anything else sensitive after handling chilies. You have been warned.

INGREDIENTS (with notes)

Extra virgin olive oil

2 medium onions, diced (I prefer to use one red onion and one yellow onion)

1/3 cup whole oregano (I use mexican oregano)

4 whole ripe Serrano chiles, sliced fine.  (you probably cannot actually get ripe serranos in your local market–try a Mexican or other ethnic market, or an artsy kind of farmer’s market–ripe chiles are as red as lipstick and as soft as a ripe cherry. I grow my own and freeze them. This makes it very easy to safely chop or slice them.) leave the seeds and cores in the chiles your wimpy girly-man!

2 whole ripe Japapeno chiles, chopped fine (as above)

2 Habanero chiles, chopped (as above)

1-2 pounds sliced white mushrooms


dried mushrooms of various quality and description (Costco is a great source for dried mushrooms at a good price)

1 pound (ish, usually 1.5 pounds) ground turkey (the name brands are all good)

3 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped

2 tsp granulated garlic

3 tbsp dehydrated minced onion

4-6 tbsp california chili powder (to your own taste)

4 tbsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp whole cumin

1 tsp celery salt

1 tsp poultry seasoning

3 tbsp New Mexico chili powder

1-2 tbsp Hungarian paprika hot (scharf) or smoked.

1/2 small can Chipotle chiles (keep the rest in Tupperware or something)

3-6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa

1 tsp cinnamon

Ground Himalayan Pink Salt (or Fleur De Sel de Guarand or just salt) to taste

dash La Yu Chinese chili oil or Chinese garlic chili paste

dash El Yucateco Habanero Sauce

dash Bufalo Chipotle Sauce

1 can small red beans (chili beans)

1 can dark red pinto beans

1 can cannelini beans

1 #10 can diced tomatoes

1 smaller can whole plum tomatoes


Put diced onions in bottom of pot and cover with Olive Oil, simmer

add mushrooms, chili powder(s) and more oil as needed. All ingredients at this point should be coated in hot oil.

Add ground turkey and break into pieces with wooden spoon (keep spoon rest handy and wash spoon completely after it is exposed to raw turkey–you may also switch to a different spoon)

Add salt. Before turkey is entirely cooked add beans and tomatoes and cocoa powder, stir thoroughly, bring to a light boil, lower heat to a low simmer.

Add rest of ingredients, testing by dipping a cracker or tortilla into the chili and tasting it. It should produce both a very fast flash burn from the chili, then a slower rising burn afterwards.

Simmer for one hour, cover and let cool slightly, refrigerate in sealed containers. Serve with cheese on top, or sour cream, or oyster crackers. I personally serve it with Whole Seed Crackers such as you find in a health food store. Top the chili with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

I eat this in very small servings. It is more agreeable to the stomach than you might think, being grease free–the turkey is 93% fat free and the olive oil is the picture perfect ‘good’ fat.

You might think I use an awful lot of different forms of chiles in this dish. I do. Chiles are a remarkable family of plants, and, like tomatoes, come from the deadly nightshade family. The dish is called CHILI so it should be right up front, flaming red and ready to burn you twice. (there is no danger in this, so get used to it)

Interestingly, chiles mostly grow in countries with hot climates. They are a vasodilator and encourage circulation, ( a very good thing ). I have grown many different varieties of these red wonders. (I almost never eat chiles while they are green because the flavor is so much better when they are ripe) It’s like the difference between home grown tomatoes and tomatoes you buy in the store.

Green chilis are not an acceptable substitute—next year we will talk about cultivating some heat of your own, until then.



David Perry



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