Dan’s lunchtime eating habits are laughably predictable. Tell me what day of the week it is, and I’ll know exactly what he’s having for lunch. Monday? Buffalo chicken wings from a place near his office with 10 cent wings on Mondays. Tuesday? Chili. Wednesday? Chili. Thursday? Chili again. Friday? If you were thinking chili, you’d be wrong – Fridays are for Mexican food. Obviously.
But yeah…Dan likes chili. A lot. It’s actually one of the few things I make that he enjoys the leftovers of. One giant crock pot full of chili = a week of happy Dan. But, that takes kind of a long time to cook, and I don’t make it often during the week. So when he was craving chili for dinner last Tuesday (how this is possible, I don’t know…he’d already had chili for lunch), I decided to throw together a faster (but equally delicious) stove-top version of our favorite slow cooker chili. And, inspired by this Pinch of Yum recipe, I decided to go really nuts and make cheesy chili-filled bread boats. Can’t go wrong with cheese, chili, and toasted bread, you know?
Aside from the fact that I used ground turkey instead of ground beef, and cooked this on the stove for 30 minutes vs. in the slow cooker for 4 hours, this is basically the same recipe as my crock pot chili. The consistency is a little bit thicker, which makes it more conducive to filling a bread boat, but the same delicious flavors are there. Dan grumbled a little bit when he saw me using the ground turkey (“why can’t we ever have beef in our chili…”), but had zero complaints after I handed him his cheesy, chili-packed bread boat. How could he? The toasted ciabatta bread was the perfect vehicle for the chili – crunchy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside, and so great for sopping up any errant chili bits/juices. The chili itself was also fabulous – meaty, tender, juicy, and so flavorful. Considering the whole recipe only took about an hour from start to finish, this may be my new favorite way to cook chili.
- 1 lb ground turkey (or beef, or whatever you feel like eating)
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
- 4 oz tomato paste
- 1 15-oz can pinto beans, drained
- 4 heaping tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- Salt/pepper to taste
- 6-8 ciabatta loaves
- Cheddar or colby jack cheese, grated (for garnish)
- In a deep skillet or wok, saute diced onion and minced garlic over medium-high heat until soft and fragrant.
- Add ground turkey to brown, breaking the chunks of meat apart thoroughly with a wooden spoon or spatula.
- When turkey meat is uniformly browned/crumbled, add diced tomatoes (with the juices), tomato paste, diced bell pepper, and drained pinto beans. Stir to make sure all ingredients are fully incorporated.
- Add chili powder and cayenne powder, stirring well after each addition.
- Taste your chili mixture, then season with salt/pepper to taste.
- Turn heat down to medium, and allow mixture to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally to incorporate the juices that come to the top. (Eventually your mixture should thicken and be less liquid. When I turned my stove off, my chili had some liquid floating on top/around the edges, but when I gave the mixture a quick store, all that liquid was absorbed into the chili and I was left with a nice thick chili – kind of like the consistency of sloppy joe filling.)
- Turn off your stove and allow your chili to cool slightly.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Cut the tops off of the ciabatta loaves in a V-shape, leaving plenty of space inside the loaf for chili.
- Generously spoon chili into your bread boats. Sprinkle with plenty of grated cheese.
- Bake for 10 minutes, until bread is crispy on the outside, and your cheese is fully melted.
- Enjoy immediately, with more cheese. (Maybe even some raw onions and sour cream?)
(Inspired by Pinch of Yum’s recipe)