Sunday, May 22, 2011

Turkey Chili with Cranberries

Last week i was in New York for Laurence's NYU graduation.  We had a great time and ate at some great restaurants.  The funny this is, the day of his Tisch graduation we couldn't catch a cab (ok... for much of the trip we couldn't catch a cab) and walked forever just to find a place to eat.  We all were tired of walking in the rain and finally, after what seemed like an eternity, decided to eat at the next available place.  Turned out to be The Counter, a restaurant we have in our very own backyard.  I'm not crazy about their turkey burgers, but Debbie and I decided to try the turkey chili with a green salad.  Wow!  It was fantastic.  I thought about that chili every day.  In fact, i took most of mine back to the hotel and ate it cold the next day for breakfast. 
                Polenta Cakes                           Turkey Chili in the Making     

Here's my recreation...

  • 2 pounds of ground turkey (mixed white and dark meat)
  • 2 cups of chopped white onion
  • 1 cup of fresh or frozen sweet corn kernels
  • 1 package of sundried tomatoes
  • 1 cup of dried cranberries
  • chili seasoning mix
  • 1/2 bottle of good red wine
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 1 large can (32 oz) of stewed cherry tomatoes 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
In a large skillet, saute the ground turkey and chopped onions until the turkey is thoroughly cooked.
Transfer the turkey and onions to a large stock pot.
Add salt and pepper, half of the dried cranberries, chili seasoning mix, tomato paste, chopped sundried tomatoes and the stewed cherry tomatoes.
Mix thoroughly.
Add wine and let simmer for an hour or two.

This time i spooned the chili over polenta cakes and topped with a sprinkling of dried cranberries, but it would also be good with an arugula salad and cornbread.

Buon appetito!


  1. awesome chili lollie. woooooooooo

  2. You forgot the Bay Leaves. Also, roasted green chili, and sugar. Absolutely has sugar in it. And instead of chili seasoning mix, try making the mix with this: Chili Powder, Cumin, Oregano. I hear there is no red wine in the restaurant version but seems good to add. I could be wrong but I don't detect any sundried tomatoes.

    1. You're right! How could i have forgotten about bay leaves??? And thanks for your homemade seasoning mix - i'll definitely try this soon. I definitely didn't add sugar, but you'll find the corn and cranberries cook down and become very sweet. I'm sure some brown sugar would have done the job just as well, but it wasn't necessary. BTW, my recipe wasn't intended to be identical to the restaurant - it had some extra goodies in it. They're both delish!

    2. It's me, anonymous again. The restaurant couldn't give me the exact recipe but I did get this from someone internally as a few of the items:
      Grilled Corn
      · Roasted Green Chiles
      · A combination of Chili Powder, Cumin, Oregano)
      · Diced Tomato and Tomato Paste
      · White Sugar for sweetness

      I plan to make it tomorrow and get it as close as I can.

    3. I really don't think there is a Chili on the planet as good as theirs. They did say dark meat Turkey not white or mixed which it does look dark.

  3. Here is the list of ingredients I'm going to work with that I think is close:
    Turkey, ground dark
    Sweet Corn
    Green Chiles cut up, pan roasted
    Scallions, cut small, pan roasted
    Olive Oil
    Chili Powder
    Diced Tomatoes (can)
    Tomato Paste
    White Sugar
    Bay Leaves
    Cranberries, dried, sweet
    Maybe some red wine after testing first
    Water to desired level

  4. The great things is I bought some from the restaurant yesterday and froze it and will thaw it tonight and then tomorrow I will have a small cup of their Chili and be able to taste and alter as I go along till I can match the taste. I have been able to create knock off''s by asking different people at different or the same restaurant in the past and been able to nail some recipes. Mainly Flint's BBQ in Oakland and Bo's BBQ in Lafayette, CA......their sauces. But I didn't have their sauce by my side to compare and I do have this Chili from the restaurant that will be right there for me to try to nail.

  5. A last note, one lady working at the restaurant said "maybe Cinnamon" as if posed like a question. She probably doesn't know the recipe but loves the Chili and perhaps detected Cinnamon. I'm sure that there is most likely several items that are combined and sent to each restaurant where they add the bulk to the meat with other items and the cooks there probably don't even know everything or even most of what they are mixing to keep things a secret. They are just told to add some amount of jar xyz to the meat and other items and the end product is the Chili. I'll try a little Cinnamon in a test spoon.

  6. Okay, I think I nailed this! See my comments at the bottom.

    The Counter Turkey Chili knock-off

    2.5 pounds Turkey, ground dark or mix
    Sweet Corn - 1/3 of a bag
    2 Green Chiles
    4 Scallions
    Olive Oil for processor
    Garlic - 3 large pieces
    Cinnamon - 1 teaspoon
    Chili Powder - 2 heaping tablespoons (may add more)
    Cumin - 1 heaping tablespoons (may add more)
    Tangerines - 2
    Oregano - 2 tablespoons
    Diced Tomatoes - 1 32 ounce can
    Tomato Paste - 1 can
    White Sugar - start with 6 tablespoons (if you want it sweet like the restaurant)
    Bay Leaves - 4
    Cranberries, dried, sweet (in an organic bag)
    Plenty of Salt and Pepper

    - Process chili peppers without seeds, garlic, chopped scallions with 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small processor. The olive oil makes sure the bigger chunks are brought into the vortex to chop everything fine.

    - Place mix in frying pan and fry for about 6 minutes. Add the sugar and juice of tangerines and mix in and cook another 2 minutes. I think there is a sweet substance with a little more body and I believe it could be oranges or tangerines. Oranges are often used in BBQ sauce to give the body of the sauce flavor.

    - Add corn to mix and fry another 6 minutes. I dont roast any of the veggies even though the restaurant roasts the corn. Pan frying can get a nice result with less effort.

    - Remove cooked items to a large bowl.

    - Take the ground turkey and cook in a pan breaking it up. You dont need any oil; it will create a broth of its own. Cook until meat is no longer pink.

    - Add the herbs and spices and salt and pepper. You want to make it strong because other items will dilute the salt and pepper.

    - Add back the cooked items from earlier along with 2/3rds of the cranberries and stir everything up.
    - Add the tomato paste and canned diced tomatoes.

    - Cook covered for 1 hour

    - Take remaining cranberries and soak in hot water for 15 minutes and then microwave a minute and pour off water. serve Chili and placed the softened cranberries that you microwaved earlier on top.

    Note: My wife and I both believe this is a dead ringer to the restaurant version in taste, especially if you add a little more chili powder. My wife is very bold and honest and will not protect feelings if a dish lacks something or is just okay. And she loved this!

    There might be a slight and I do mean slight variation on 1-2 items but those items compared to the restaurant, but they were used to get as close to the taste without actually knowing the recipe 100%. In other words, they were a hunch not as to the ingredients, but to the flavor they create such as the tangerines and Cinnamon but someone at the restaurant detected Cinnamon. It is a fact that many of the ingredients above came from internal restaurant research by talking to people at different restaurants, my analyzing the chili, and also having a bowl of their chili as I made the one I made. I am confident this will be on some folks favorite chili ever list. I believe this.


  7. One more thing, as you can see, I pan roasted my corn and chili's because it was the easiest method without spending too much time. If you use a non-stick pan on high with no oil, you could get that dark browning of the edges of the corn and give it the roasted look.

  8. Thank you anonymous!! Your so awesome. Gonna try your recipe tomorrow

    1. Camaybaby, please let us know how it comes out.

  9. TERRIFIC! I had this for the first time at The Counter yesterday and loved it so much I'm delighted to have Googled and found this...thanks!

  10. I had this for the first time yesterday and was surprised and amazed how delicious it was so I immediately starting hunting down the recipe. Thank you!