Like so many of us, I got up early on Tuesday to vote (but was not given a sticker!!!), then awaited election returns with a sense of calm, feeling like I knew what to expect – our first woman president. I called it quits around 11 pm with a feeling of acute anxiety, not liking where this was going, and then woke up completely heartbroken the next morning. This is the closest I have ever come to crying over a presidential election. My heart is heavy with fear, embarrassment, and mostly sadness. I feel sick every time I read another story of someone’s young daughter bursting into tears upon finding out that a bully won instead of the first woman to ever run for the office, or worrying about what will happen to their Muslim or Mexican friends at school.
I’d planned on sharing this recipe yesterday, thinking it would be a celebration of a major glass ceiling being shattered – whatever my admittedly not always positive opinions of Hillary Clinton were, I was incredibly excited at the thought of our first female president – but instead I’m sharing it in a spirit of mourning, really.
Apparently the only thing President Obama really cooks is this pot of chili, which he’s been making since college, according to food historian Robb Walsh. He (Walsh) published it in his latest cookbook, and I thought if there was ever an appropriate time to make it myself, well, here we are.
I will miss President Obama and his family terribly. Whatever one may think of his politics, no one can deny he’s a man of class, grace, dignity, and integrity. He is loved and respected the world over. He genuinely appears to be extremely devoted to his family, with eight years going by without one whiff of sex scandal. Class, grace, and a thick-skinned, measured temperament in the White House will be abruptly ending come January 20th. It hurts.
This chili, as well as being a tribute to someone I greatly admire and will sorely miss, is also just plain delicious and easy to pull off. It’s quite “Midwest” in style, a lovely meaty carb-fest since you’re instructed to serve it over rice and with cornbread on the side, and not nearly as spicy as most Texas bowls-o-red tend to be. Whatever your personal politics, I’d highly recommend giving this a go next time you need a simple, hearty bowl of chili in your life. Enjoy!
Source: slightly adapted from The Chili Cookbook by Robb Walsh
1 tbs olive oil
1 lb. ground turkey or lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped (I used a large poblano, a bell pepper would be fine too)
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
¼ – 1 tsp ground cumin, to taste
¼ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp dried basil
1 heaping tbs chili powder
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
3 tbs red wine vinegar
1 (28 oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, with their juices; tomatoes should be chopped or broken up with a potato masher or snipped into chunks with kitchen shears
Water, as needed
1 (15 oz.) can kidney beans, drained
White or brown rice, for serving
Cornbread, for serving
Garnishes: sour cream, shredded cheddar, and diced raw white onion are the President’s preferences, but you can adapt as you like, obviously
Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add the ground turkey. Crumble and cook until no traces of pink remain. Add the onion, pepper, and garlic and cook until softened. Now add the cumin, oregano, turmeric, basil, and chili powder. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the vinegar and tomatoes, including juices. Stir together until combined, then fill up most of the now-empty tomato can with water. Add it about a half cup at a time, just to give the chili somewhere to go while you simmer it for at least 1 hour. You want the tomatoes to cook down and the flavors to marry. Add more water, a little at a time, if it’s getting too thick. You want the final product to be nicely thickened, but with a little bit of liquid. Add the kidney beans and cook a few more minutes. Once it’s ready, taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
Serve over steamed white or brown rice and garnish as instructed or as desired. Enjoy!