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Leftover White Turkey Chili

In our humble opinion, Thanksgiving is superior to any other day of the year. In an effort to make this year’s feast the best of all time (sorry, Pilgrims and Wampanoag tribe), we’re bringing you the recipes, how-tos and decorating ideas to help you become a Turkey Day pro.

My very first batch of white turkey chili involved tossing a bunch of ingredients into a pot and praying for the best. Much to my surprise, my family was scraping the bottom of the pot within an hour (and not because I didn’t make enough!). Now, leftover-turkey chili is as much a part of our Thanksgiving tradition as the holiday meal itself.

One of the things I love most about this recipe is that it never turns out exactly the same. If I’m feeling particularly lazy, I’ll swap canned chiles for fresh, and sometimes — if I want to get adventurous — I’ll toss in a few “exotic” peppers from the nearby Mexican market. This plan can backfire, however, if you don’t know what you’re doing (I didn’t), so make sure you sample the peppers before it’s too late. (Thankfully, a few cups of cooked white rice salvaged the pot and silenced the alarms, not to mention it tasted amazing.)

Play around with ingredient quantities and flavors to make it your own. Hominy and even white potatoes make tasty additions to this soup. I prefer my turkey chili to be thick and creamier than most. Some recipes call for adding cornmeal or pureeing some of the beans with an immersion blender, but I find that a basic roux with some milk (or heavy cream) does the trick.

The best thing about this dish, and chili in general, is that it just keeps getting better as the days go by. I suggest making it early in the morning, then turning off the range and letting it be. Now sit back, relax and savor your new day-after-Thanksgiving tradition.

White Turkey Chili
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 2 hours
Serves: 8

For the soup:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, diced
1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
6 cups (1 1/2 quarts) chicken or turkey stock
3-4 cups cooked, shredded turkey
2 15-ounce cans white beans, such as great Northern or cannellini
1 cup fresh, frozen or canned yellow corn (thawed if frozen, drained if canned)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole milk or heavy cream
Cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)

For serving, optional additions:
Sour cream or creme fraiche
Grated cheddar cheese
Hot sauce, such as Tabasco or Cholula
Cooked white rice

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and peppers and cook until very soft, about 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin and coriander and cook for another few minutes.

Add the stock, turkey, white beans and corn to the Dutch oven and season with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for one hour.

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until thick and golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the milk and continue whisking until the mixture is thick and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk the mixture into the chili until it is completely incorporated and there are no lumps.

Continue cooking the chili over low heat, stirring occasionally, for another 45 minutes to an hour. Generously season with salt, pepper and cayenne to taste. The chili is good straight from the pot, but is even better served one or two days after cooking. (Reheat over medium-low until warmed. Add more stock if the chili seems too thick, or Wondra flour if it seems too thin.) Serve over cooked white rice with sour cream, freshly grated cheddar and/or hot sauce on the side.

Get more Thanksgiving leftovers recipes and ideas for using up extra turkey.

Nealey moved from Alabama to the West Coast to follow her dreams, only to realize once there how much she missed good ol’ country cooking.  So she took to the kitchen and began re-creating the dishes of her past, but this time without any help from a can. What started out as a hobby turned into an obsession, so she quit her day job to pursue cooking, and eating, fulltime. Dixie Caviar is where you can follow her pursuits of all things Southern.

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