Count it as one of my controversial food opinions, but I’ve always hated the Christmas sandwich.
All manner of discordant and sloppy leftovers, fridge-cold and mashed together between two pieces of bread? No thanks. In fairness, I was lucky to have better alternatives when I was growing up in the States. The “what to do with all that leftover Thanksgiving turkey” recipe is a whole genre unto itself.
Every year I remember my mom making something different, from turkey curry and turkey enchiladas to turkey pho. Most memorably, there was a recipe for turkey chilli, clipped from some newspaper column years ago. It wasn’t your bog-standard chilli, but both brighter and deeper, with its smoky chipotle and rich cocoa powder, cinnamon and pumpkin purée (yes! – another savoury pumpkin dish worth cherishing).
This chilli is a sublime homage to that one I first ate more than a decade ago. If you’re having trouble finding tins of puréed pumpkin (the same ones you’d use for pumpkin pie), I usually have luck sourcing them from Whole Foods, or they’re easily found online. And while this recipe is ideal for turning dried-out leftovers into tender, braisey strands, you don’t need to use turkey if you don’t have it. This works with any mince – chicken, turkey, beef or vegan.
The pairing options are just as flexible. If you like your beers cranked-up and full-throttle, a smoky-as-a-pack-of-bacon bottle of Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen would be just the ticket. So, too, would a dry, roasty stout or porter. But in the spirit of mellowness, envisioning what will surely be some big-league festive indulgence, I opted to go with a brown ale.
Queer Brewing’s brand new brown ale, Lay Down My Bones, is beautifully balanced, with a nutty malt backbone that’s embittered and brightened by a generous hop profile. It tastes almost nostalgic to me, and distinctly American, like the brown ales I used to have back home. Together with the chilli, it’s the gustatory equivalent of a warm sweater – exactly the comfort you need to see out the year.
Pumpkin Chipotle Chilli
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
20g fresh sage leaves
2 onions, diced
5-6 garlic cloves, minced
3 jalapeños, minced
Fine sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
500g leftover turkey, roughly shredded (or turkey, chicken, beef or vegan mince)
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 tablespoons tomato purée
3-4 tablespoons chipotles in adobo (HB&B stocks the La Preferida brand – if
the peppers are whole, chop before adding)
2 400g tins chopped tomatoes
2 400g tins cannellini beans (or other beans of your choosing), drained and rinsed
1 425g tin puréed pumpkin
1.5 litres chicken or vegetable stock
2-3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2-3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1. Place a Dutch oven or other large pan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Once hot, add the sage leaves. Fry for 1 minute, or until the leaves have turned bright green and are starting to crisp. Transfer the sage to a paper-towel-lined and set aside, leaving the infused oil in the pan.
2. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the onions. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, or until softened and translucent. Add the garlic and jalapeños, and season the mixture with salt and pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes more, stirring frequently, or until the garlic has lost its raw smell.
3. Add the mince of your choosing to the pot (skip this step if you’re using leftover turkey). Cook for 5-7 minutes, breaking the mince into small pieces with a wooden spoon as you go, or until completely cooked through.
4. Add the spices and mix through; cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant. Next, add the tomato purée and chipotles in adobo. Mix through and cook for 1-2 minutes more.
5. Next, add the chopped tomatoes, beans, and puréed pumpkin, mixing to combine. Add the stock and stir through. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil before lowering to a simmer. Add the brown sugar and cocoa powder, and mix through. (If using shredded turkey, add it at this stage.)
6. Leave the chilli to simmer for around 1 hour, or until it has thickened and its flavours have concentrated. Stir occasionally as it cooks to prevent it sticking on the bottom. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed, adding any more salt, sugar, spice or cocoa powder if preferred.
7. To serve, divide the chilli between bowls and garnish with the fried sage leaves. I prefer not to serve it with steamed rice – chilli is not a curry! – instead, cornbread is a good complement.
Claire M Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beer hound and all-around lover of tasty things. You can follow her at @clairembullen. For more recipes like this, sign up to our HB&B All Killer No Filler beer subscription - you'll receive Claire's recipe and food pairings, plus expert tasting notes, with 10 world-class beers like this one every month.