Smoky Bacon Turkey Chili


I imagine a “polar vortex” to be a swirling mass of polar bears.  Or some sort of high-powered polar bear business conference?

…Am I close?

Living in California, you see, comes with some benefits.  Fresh oranges and avocados, sure, but also a lack of swirling polar bear activity.  Or bracing cold, for that matter.  I don’t mean to rub it in.  I’ve seen the crazy, Day-After-Tomorrow/White-Walker-Winter-Is -Coming-Style photos of the rest of the country.  New York looks miserable.  Chicago?  Forget it.  Meanwhile, I ran outside this morning.  In pretty much a t-shirt.

In other news, I’m the worst.


In other other news, I made you chili!  And as everyone knows, chili is where it’s at during a polar (bear) vortex.  It’s a simple, one-pot, warm-to-the-bone kind of meal.  It uses a lot of what may already be in your pantry.  Plus there’s bacon!

The smoky bacon is what starts us off, and then the chili fills out with ground turkey meat and some spicy chicken chorizo.  Smoke and spice get topped with sweet tomatoes and rich beer, and some creamy beans, too.  Top it all off with a handful of green onions and shredded cheese, a scoop of cool yogurt and some chopped avocado for good measure?  CHILI TIME.  With chips.  Let’s see what our polar vortex has to say about that.


Smoky Bacon Turkey Chili

Adapted from Sunset Magazine, January 2014 (p. 68)


  • 8 ounces smoked bacon, chopped into lardons
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 pound chicken chorizo, removed from its casing (can substitute any hot Italian sausage)
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey (I like to use dark meat for better flavor, but use what you like)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 (12 ounce) bottle medium-bodied beer, such as Anchor Steam
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • plain yogurt, sliced green onions, shredded cheddar jack cheese, chopped avocado and tortilla chips, for serving


In a large, heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat, cook the bacon, stirring, until it just begins to brown, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the onion and continue to cook until softened and translucent, another 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and stir to combine, cooking for one minute, until fragrant.

Add the chicken chorizo and ground turkey, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon.  Add the chili powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne and salt, and cook until the spices have bloomed and the meat is cooked through, 7-10 minutes.

Add the crushed tomatoes with their juice, the tomato paste, beer and Worcestershire, stirring to combine.  Bring the chili to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, partly covered, for 30 minutes.

Add beans and cook another few minutes, until everything is hot.  Season the chili with more salt, to taste.  Serve chili in big bowls, with plenty of toppings on the side.

Serves 6-8.

Join the Conversation


  1. The Central NJ Chili Cookoff competition is coming up in February and this very well may be my entry!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.