Chili con Carne with Heritage Turkey

Chili con Carne with Heritage Turkey

As far back as 1529, records of chili seasoned stews have been prepared by the Aztecs in Tenochtitlan, now modern day Mexico City. 

The term “chili con carne," combining the Nahuatl “chili” and spanish “con carne” or with meat, find its origins from writings about the Mexican-American war in 1857, where the army would prepare dried beef, suet and, and dried chilis and salt and dry into bricks to preserve and transport easily and then rehydrate in pots with water to simmer and serve to the soldiers. 

Chili con carne has become a staple of Tex-Mex cuisine, and Texas officially recognized it as its state dish in a resolution passed in 1977. 

Our take on chili con carne, pays homage to the heirloom, indigenous American ingredients (chilis, tomatoes) by including Heritage Ground Turkey from Good Shepherd Ranch. 

While there is some controversy over whether or not beans should be included in chili con carne, as it is generally accepted the original does not include them, but recipes containing beans have been around since the early 20th century. Proponents of the inclusion state that chefs have been including beans for nearly a century, and that it's an acceptable variation, but not in competition as stated by the Chili Appreciation Society International laid forth its guidelines in 1999.

Tomatoes are a welcome addition not seen in the original recipe but Wick Fowler – North Texas Journalist and creator of the “Two Alarm Chili” – says it's essential. He also argues one should never eat chili freshly cooked, but rather chilled overnight and enjoyed reheated to really meld all the spices and flavors together. 

Whether you enjoy chili with beans and tomatoes or without, we think it's a perfect recipe for all kinds of Heritage Ground Meat. We used turkey but feel free to substitute beef, pork, lamb, goat, or chicken!


  • 3lb ground turkey, or ground meat of your choice
  • 2 dry ancho chilis, stemmed and deseeded
  • 3 dry pasilla chilis, stemmed and deseeded
  • 3 dry guajillo chilis, stemmed and deseed
  • 2 cups cooked black beans, homemade or canned
  • 2 cups cooked pinto beans, homemade or canned
  • 1 15oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 chipotle chilis deseeded, plus 2 tablespoons of adobo from a can
  • 1 quart chicken stock, divided 2 cups and 2 cups
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp of cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 Tsp oregano
  • 1-2 Tsp apple cider vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Hot Sauce, to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cilantro, for garnish
  • 4 scallions, sliced
  • Shredded cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Avocados
  • Tortilla chips

Chili Con Carne Mise en Place


Toast chilis in a dry pan over medium heat for 1-2 minutes until fragrant, do not burn.

Add dried chilis, chipotle chilis and adobo, and 2 cups of chicken stock to a 2 quart microwave safe bowl and cover in plastic wrap and microwave for about 5 minutes.

Add the chili mixture to a blender, and blend until smooth. Adding additional ¼ cup of chicken stock at a time to get a smoother texture if needed. Set aside.

In a large dutch oven, over medium high heat with 2 Tbsp of olive oil in batches, brown the ground turkey, careful not to overcrowd the pan. Season with salt and pepper with each batch. Remove all the ground turkey and its juices to a bowl.

In the same dutch oven, over medium-high heat add another 2 tbsp of olive oil, and saute the onions until translucent about 2 minutes, add the garlic and the spices and continue to saute for about another minute until fragrant. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the ground turkey, the chili mixture, beans, tomatoes, and the rest of the chicken stock to the dutch oven, and stir to combine. 

Bring to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper if needed, add 1-2 tsp of apple cider vinegar, and as much of your favorite hot sauce to adjust heat as needed.

For best results, let cool and refrigerate overnight. Reheat before serving.

Serve in bowls with avocado slices, sourcream, shredded cheddar cheese, sliced scallions, and cilantro, and tortilla chips.

Chili con Carne with Heritage Turkey