I found this recipe on Iowa Girl Eats and was so intrigued and wanted to try it so badly that I made it that night. We love chili, but had never had sweet chili before. The reviews on the blog were glowing and the woman who writes the blog said it is their all time favorite, so how could I resist?
As usual for me, I have messed with the recipe in a few ways. I use extra lean ground turkey and that basically produces no fat for sauteing anything, and I actually cut back on the amount of chili powder (usually I add more than recipes call for!). Chili powder intensity varies wildly according to what kind you get. Mine is from Mountain Rose Herbs. It's very delicious, but quite potent and spicy. The original recipe calls for 6 tablespoons (this is with the recipe doubled as written below), but I recommend you add 4 to start with like I did and then you can add more if it's needed. I also left out the cayenne because it was spicy enough without, thanks to the chili powder. I also saute the spices with the onion, garlic, and meat to help the flavors develop, something not specified in the original recipe.
The other big change is that I use all black beans instead of part canned baked beans so the sugar could be reduced a bit, but the first time I made it, I did use the baked beans and it was very good. Usually I prefer main dish recipes without added sugar, but figure making this once or twice a year will not hurt anything. It would not be the same without the sweetness! This recipe makes 12 generous servings and each serving has 1 teaspoon of brown sugar, which isn't too bad, all things considered.
So, the verdict? Pretty amazing and unlike any other chili I've either made or eaten. It is indeed spicy, smoky, and sweet! The trifecta of perfection. The flavors really combine beautifully and it turns out sweet chili totally works. I had a pretty specific idea in my head of what this chili would taste like (guessing the result of me cooking half my life), and it was exactly how I expected. It became an instant favorite in our house and I now make it in double batches so we can freeze some of it. We still love Stout Chili and White Chili (which I still need to post on the blog, funny considering it's been a favorite of mine since childhood!), but we have love enough in our hearts for 3 "essential" chili recipes and the many other quick chili recipes I've posted here. Plus, this chili recipe is quite different in flavor from Stout Chili and White Chili.
If you don't want to cook this on the stove, you can do it in the Instant Pot or a slow cooker. For the Instant Pot, just cook everything as described on Saute, then put the lid on and set it to Chili for 20 minutes, do a quick pressure release, and serve. For a slow cooker, cook everything as described on the stove top, but instead of simmering it, transfer the chili to the slow cooker and cook it for 6-8 hours.
Quick Note: Have your cup of water and cans of tomato sauce open before you start. The spices can burn quickly so you want to have that liquid ingredient ready to go!
Spicy, Smoky, Sweet Chili
4 Tbsp butter1 large onion, diced
2 lb ground turkey
8 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 C water
2 28 oz can tomato sauce2 28 oz cans black beans, drained
4 Tbsp brown sugar
First things first, have your spices in a small bowl so you can add them quickly and all at once. Set aside.
Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute until they turn translucent, then add the ground turkey. Cook the turkey and onion together, being sure to break up the meat with your spoon. When the meat is no longer pink, ad the minced garlic and spices. Saute for another minute or so, being very careful not to burn the spices. Immediately pour in the water and tomato sauce, then add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer, then cover and reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Yield: 12 servings