3-Alarm Chili

I’m at yet another potluck and someone is staring down at my chili with a confused look on their face. “This looks like chili.” “Yeah,” I say, “it is chili.” “uh….with pasta? How does that work?” “It just does,” I assure them. I found the base recipe years ago in a Betty Crocker vegetarian cookbook and I have been hooked ever since. Once people get over their confusion and try, I always get rave reviews and you’ll love it, too. It’s got a great spicy heat that you can turn up a notch or 5, to suit your liking, and the cinnamon in the sauce make it the most comforting and aromatic dish for the cold months. It’s chili-licious!

3 Alarm Turkey Chili

3-Alarm Chili


  • 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey or chicken (optional and unneeded really, as the olive oil used to sauté the veggies makes the chili rich already, but if you are in the mood for meaty chili … )
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 1 medium pepper (Heat Control: Green bell pepper for mild, Passilla or Anaheim for medium, 2 large jalapeño peppers for hot, or 2 Serrano peppers for sadists.)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup taco sauce (Heat Control: The hotter the taco sauce, the hotter the dish. Just be aware that this is the tomato-based taco sauce, NOT a pepper sauce like Tabasco.)
  • 2 cans diced tomatos and chilis, undrained (Heat Control: Ro-Tel sells 4 versions of heat – Mild, Original, Hot, and Lime.)
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 ground cinnamon
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 box angel hair pasta


  • In a dutch oven or a large, deep skillet, sauté the onions and bell pepper in EVOO until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add into the dutch oven with the turkey.
  • If you want ground turkey or chicken, brown that in a separate skillet. You can either drain it, which I don’t recommend if you got a lean version, or just scrape the whole mess into the dutch oven when its ready.
  • Add in the water, cans of tomato and chiles, sauce and seasonings. Just hold off on the beans and angel hair pasta.
  • Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium-low heat. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add in the beans and pasta and return to boiling. Reduce back to medium-high heat. Simmer for 8-10 minutes.
  • Serve with garnish assortment so people can doctor their chili up as desired.

Garnish Assortment

  • Sour cream
  • Cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Sliced, fresh jalapeño
  • Pepper sauces: Franks, Tabasco, Tapatillo, and Sriracha

Serving options

  • Dial up the heat when you prepare the chili and serve with tortilla chips, frito scoopers, and Tostito bowls along with a bucket of ice cold, light beer in the summertime. Everyone will have a blast dowsing their scorching mouths and getting a spice-buzz.
  • Keep the heat mild and serve with a skillet cornbread trencher. Instant fall comfort food. There are lots of skillet cornbread recipes ; buttermilk, bacon, southern, northern… Experiment!
  • Like a lot of flavor juxtaposition? I got you covered! Make the chili fairly spicy, not inferno-beer-sloshing-spicy, but enough to make you cough a little. Make a batch of skillet cornbread, but replace the sugar for a 1/4 cup of honey and add in a 1/4 cup of maple syrup. Serve on the side, rather than as a trencher, and everyone can enjoy scooping and dipping and groaning with sweet-savory-heat delight.

Uh, what’s a trencher?

A trencher is an old term that essentially refers to the practice of putting a thick slice of bread in your bowl and drenching it with your chili or stew. You can be all sophisticated with a knife and fork, or pick up the bread and eat the whole mess with your hands. That’s how they did it the medieval days!

What the heck is a dutch oven?

I am including this because I seriously did not understand this term when I first started cooking. I asked people that cooked a lot and surprisingly, I got different answers. Well, I finally have the correct and definitive answer. It’s a deep pot with a tight fitting lid. Here’s the one I own and I love, love, love it. The lid doubles as a skillet, which is uber handy. It’s also economical and will survive a nuclear holocaust.

~Nom On

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