Even in the slow season, many of us have frantic days where eating is almost an afterthought. If we have more than ourselves to feed, it can become a source of stress in itself. So, how do we provide healthy meals for ourselves and our families in limited time without sacrificing health benefits, eye appeal, and flavor? In this ongoing series, Islanders share their quick, go-to recipes.
Amy Simcik Williams cooks big. She is the involved mother of Rosalyn, a third-grader, and a helpmate in her husband Seth’s plumbing business in addition to her commitments to Island community service, so she hasn’t a lot of time to cadge together an evening meal. So, she cooks ahead.
“The reason we would need a fast supper,” Amy explains, “is because our lives kind of revolve around the school schedule and my husband is busy in his line of work and we’re usually coming together around dinner time. Making that part of the day less stressful and easier to get together is a priority for us. Having a meal that’s ready to go and easy to serve is especially beneficial.”
Amy devised her turkey chili recipe on her own. “I was with some friends and we were talking about what to have for dinner one night,” she recalls. “A young friend of mine — a teenager — said ‘How about chili?’” Tired of the usual fare, Amy decided to make it with turkey instead of the usual beef. “I wanted to add more vegetables, but I also wanted to make it meaty. Seth likes heartier foods.”
At Cronig’s, she found Plainville Ground Turkey and continued around the store to pick up ingredients that would seem to enhance the dish. “I bought three kinds of beans,” she says.
And the bourbon? “I thought, turkey can be kind of bland, so I was trying to think of some sort of liquid that would give it some extra flavor in addition to the kick of the chili spices.”
Besides the convenience of keeping it stashed in the refrigerator, Amy likes the versatility of the dish. “Chili recipes are pretty straightforward,” she says, “and you can adapt them to your taste any way you want. You can use more beans and less meat, substitute sweet potato instead of butternut squash. If you want to add onions, add onions.”
For health reasons, Amy cooks gluten and dairy free. Instead of corn bread, she serves the chili with Late July Multi-Grain Corn Tortilla Chips. “What I like about this recipe,” she says, “is that I can make a lot of it and we can eat off of it for almost a week. We have it available for lunch and/or dinner. That way I will have a back-up for a night that I don’t have time to cook a meal.
“It sits in the fridge and it seems like the longer it sits, the better it tastes.”
Serves 8 to 10
5 4-oz. pkgs. of Plainville Natural ground turkey
1/8 cup grapeseed oil
1 1/2 Tbs. paprika
2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. black pepper
7 or 8 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp. sea salt
3 shot glasses of Knob Creek Bourbon
Add oil and ground turkey to Le Creuset or other large French/Dutch oven, cook at low to medium heat, adding spices, garlic, salt, and bourbon. Stir together and cook, mixing and chopping turkey mixture occasionally.
1 jar Amy’s (brand-name) family organic pasta sauce, or choose your favorite pasta sauce, and add some water from rinsing jar (1/2 cup).
2 26-oz. POMI (boxes) chopped tomatoes
1 15-oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-oz can of red beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-oz can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 1/2 cups of butternut squash, cubed small
1 bunch of cilantro washed and finely chopped, without stems.
When the turkey is thoroughly cooked after mixing and chopping up large pieces with a wooden spoon, stir in tomato sauce, water, and the chopped tomatoes. Then add the beans (drained and rinsed well) and butternut squash. Stir ingredients. Cook together for 30 minutes over low to medium heat, cover pot. Check and stir occasionally.
After 30 minutes or so, add the cilantro. Mix together and let cook for another 30 to 40 minutes, until butternut squash is softened and all flavors marry. Add extra salt or pepper as desired. The chili tastes even better after a couple of days in the refrigerator.
Reheat slowly, adding a little water to soften cold chili. You can freeze the chili once it has thoroughly cooked and cooled, storing it in plastic freezer bags.