Turkey Black Bean Chili with Okra

We all know that ground turkey is the new hamburger if you’re looking to go easy on your heart. But I never found this a satisfactory replacement unless it was used in a sauce or stew of some type — in which juices from all kinds of ingredients run free and wild as piglets in a pen. A turkey burger? Not even close… but ground turkey in chili? Seconds, please. Besides, you’re bound to end up draining most of the juices when “degreasing” your pan after browning ground beef anyway.

This recipe occurred on a night when I was craving something I’ve never had before, and the foggy idea in mind was something “Spanish.” So taking some cues from a picadillo I concocted this chili. Instead of salty pimento-stuffed green olives typically called for in picadillos, I opted for a healthier green in okra, thus tipping the dish towards the way of the vegetable’s alter-ego, “gumbo.” I also added a splash of (coincidentally Spanish) white wine. Whatever you want to call it, this is a quick way to create a large volume of hearty, heart-healthy stuff to last the rest of the week — and it certainly doesn’t require a gallon of cheese to eat it.

Turkey Black Bean Chili with Okra
(makes 4-6 servings)

1-1.5 lb ground turkey
1 15 oz can black beans (preferably low-sodium)
1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes, chopped or smashed
1 cup fresh or frozen okra, sliced
1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup white wine
1 Tb corn meal
About 1 Tb chili powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1-2 bay leaves
Tabasco sauce to taste
1 tsp brown sugar (optional)
2-3 jalepeno peppers, chopped (optional)
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 Tb olive oil

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil and brown ground turkey. Season with salt and pepper. Add onions, green pepper, jalepeno pepper (if using), and sautee for about 5-10 minutes. Add all the spices and white wine and bring to a boil, stirring, for another 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, black beans and garlic and bring again to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer, covered, for at least half an hour. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Add corn meal and okra and cook, uncovered or covered for another ten minutes or so. Serve with rice.

Cost Calculator
(for 4-6 servings)

1 lb ground turkey (at $4.99/pkg of 1.5 lb): $3.33
1 can black beans: $0.75
1/2 cup white wine: $1.00
1 cup chopped green pepper (at $2.99/lb): $1.00
1 medium onion: $0.20
2 jalepenos (at $2.99/lb): $0.80
1 can tomatoes: $1.59
1 cup frozen okra: $0.45
Garlic, spices, corn meal, olive oil: $0.40

Total: $9.52

Health Factor

Three brownie points: Complete meal recipes under the four brownie point mark are hard to come by, but I’m going to say this slips under that limbo pole without too much constraint. Watching for the sodium content in the canned ingredients, it’s a notch below vegetarian chili on the health scale.

10 Responses

  1. mark

    A meal after my own heart! Ice cream the day before then chili! Sounds like a great combination. It is true, Turkey burger does not usually work on its own…

  2. Sharon

    Just found your recipe and it sounds really good. I have been using ground turkey for ages and have found that adding a little browning sauce, like “Kitchen Bouquet”, to the cooked turkey, makes the color of the cooked ground turkey more appetizing for the uninitiated.

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  6. Jessie


    Gave this recipe a whirl today. It came out great. As you say in your article…”ground turkey is the new hamburger”. Highly recommended.


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