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Turkey and Butternut Squash Chili with Apple-Cilantro Garnish

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Serves 8 to 10

  • by from Year-Round Slow Cooker

With its orange color, this slightly sweet, mild chili is ideal for Super Bowl parties or Halloween, and it will please adults and kids alike. For variation, you can use chicken instead of turkey thighs and different types of canned beans; to up the heat, add minced jalapeño or increase the chipotle. To save time, buy precut squash, garlic, and onions. Prepare the garnish—so delicious, you might want to double it—within a couple of hours of serving.

For the chili
  • 2 slices white bread
  • 1⁄2 cup whole milk
  • 1-1⁄2 lbs. ground turkey
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1⁄4 cup apricot nectar or orange or apple juice
  • 2 Tbs. fresh-squeezed, strained lime juice
  • 1⁄4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 6 cups packed 1⁄2-inch-cubed peeled butternut squash
  • 1-1⁄2 cups finely chopped red onions
  • 2 Tbs. minced garlic
  • 2 tsp. chili powder, divided
  • 2 tsp. coarse salt, divided
  • 10 grinds black pepper, divided
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 2 Tbs. liquid from a can of chipotle chiles en adobo
  • 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • One 15-oz. can white (cannellini) beans, drained and rinsed
  • One 15-1⁄2-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
For the apple-cilantro garnish
  • 1-1⁄4 cups 1⁄3-inch-diced unpeeled sweet apples, such as Macintosh
  • 1⁄4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 Tbs. fresh-squeezed, strained lime juice
To make the chili
Tip:
To adapt a slow-cooker recipe to a conventional oven, follow these guidelines: add more liquid, to accommodate for greater evaporation; bring the dish to a boil over high heat in a Dutch oven, then cover the pot and put in a 350°F oven. Plan on the dish taking roughly half the time to cook in the oven as it would in the slow cooker.

In a medium bowl, mash the bread and milk together until a smooth paste forms, then gently knead in the meat; set aside. In a small bowl, combine the pumpkin, tomatoes, nectar, and lime juice; set aside.

Heat half of the oil in a 10-inch, heavy sauté pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the squash, onions, garlic, half of the chili powder, 1 tsp. salt, and 5 grinds pepper. Sauté, stirring, until the mixture is aromatic and the squash is slightly softened when poked with a fork, about 6 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker.

Add the remaining oil, meat-bread mixture, tomato paste, chipotle liquid, flour, remaining chili powder, salt, and pepper to the pan. Sauté, stirring with a wooden spoon, until aromatic and the flour is no longer visible, about 5 minutes. Add the pumpkin-nectar mix to the pan and simmer, stirring, for 2 more minutes. Add to the slow cooker. Mix in the beans and the chickpeas, cover, and cook on low until the meat is cooked through and the squash is tender, 4 to 6 hours. Serve with Apple-Cilantro Garnish on the side (see below).

To make the garnish

Mix the ingredients together in a small bowl, chill, and serve with the chili.

Photo: Andrew Hugh Purcell

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