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Dutch Oven Turkey Butternut Squash Chili is a mix between your traditional, hearty, warm chili with a cross over of white chicken chili, but without the beans. Better yet, this chili turns out to be a beautifully vibrant orange color to celebrate the fall harvest and use up those Thanksgiving leftovers.
The Inspiration Behind the Recipe
Travis, my husband got a wild turkey the other day setting the course for a new found love of the bounty our land offers. I didn’t get any pictures as it all happened so fast, but to say this home has been a God send is an understatement. Right in our backyard we’ve been able to get a deer and a turkey so far this year.
We’re learning so much here on the homestead and one of those skills is butchering. This was his first time watching many YouTube videos and figuring out the process. Though we were initially going to cook the turkey whole, Thanksgiving style, parting it became the more manageable task. With our family on the mend from a cold, I knew a Chicken Noodle Soup of sorts was due. Thankfully the turkey was still in the refrigerator unlike the chicken.
Now came the need to make a chili or soup that the kids would eat, would sucker punch this cold right in the teeth, and didn’t have beans. Challenge accepted. My oldest boy who is 8 even said, without prompting, that it was really good. His words people. His words. And throughout this adventure, I think we’ve come to learn he likes food a bit on the spicy side. I love getting to learn more about my kids as I cook for them!
Ingredients and Tips for Turkey Butternut Squash Chili
- Leftover Turkey – I suggest the dark meat as it holds the most flavor and nutrient value. If you do not have access to turkey, chicken will work as a substitute.
- Chicken Stock – homemade chicken stock is always preferred, but if you haven’t made any lately grab some chicken bone broth for the best nutrient rich results.
- Vegetables – 1 pound of butternut squash peeled and cubed, 1 medium yellow onion, 1 large carrot, and 2 large cloves of garlic. Preparing this dish in the fall will ensure the freshest of these fall harvest vegetables.
- Spices – Salt, pepper, paprika, chili powder, cumin, dried sage, and dried rosemary. We’re going for warm with a hint of traditional chili flavor. Pro Tip: Fresh herbs air dried at home will produce a more potent flavor and aroma.
- Extras – If you like your soups and chilis a little more on the creamy side, you’ll want to add evaporated milk. Evaporated milk will still allow this soup to freeze or can well. Right before serving, add a splash of heavy cream for a smoother texture. Optional, but totally worth it in our opinion, is adding some pickled jalapenos for a bit of an acidic and spicy bite. Even our kids were fans!
Tips for Making this Turkey Butternut Squash Chili
I have a few tips that will help you make this dish the best it can be. Firstly, is roasting or searing the vegetables in the dutch oven. Getting vegetables a little charred and caramelized will add great texture and flavor to the overall dish. Don’t go crazy on the oil or butter when sautéing the vegetables either. Turkey, especially the dark meat, has a lot of natural oils in it already. Limiting the additional oil will help to keep the end result from having a thick top layer of oil and fat.
Use farm fresh, seasonal vegetables and homemade elements when possible. If you’re making this in the spring, toss some kale in. If you have an herb garden, grab from that. If you’re part of a local CSA, use what is available to you.
Need it a little heartier for the strong men in your lives? Or like me trying to keep the kids from asking for a snack within the 30 minutes after dinner? Add rice, cannellini beans, barely, or even Ditalini pasta to the finish of the chili. If adding pasta or rice and making this the day before, wait until just before serving to add in pre-cooked pasta or rice. Otherwise it will absorb too much of the liquid. Beans you can add during the cooking process once rinsed.
Poultry in the Instant Pot
If you’re in a pinch for leftover chicken or turkey, turn to the Instant Pot. I know, I know, this is a cast iron blog and all, but sometimes even the best of us forget to pull out a frozen piece of meat or need to have dinner on the table 20 minutes after farm chores. And that’s just not going to happen if your poultry isn’t cooked yet. Pro Tip: To quickly cook poultry in an Instant Pot, add it to the insert with 1 cup of chicken stock, a bay leaf, dried rosemary, salt, and pepper. Cook on high pressure for 30 minutes. Natural release if possible but quick release works as well. Remove the poultry and shred before adding to the dutch oven.
What to Serve with Chili
This is a lighter chili and did well with homemade croutons from a leftover sub roll we had. Of course cornbread is always a favorite with any chili. And a sourdough loaf would provide even more nutritional value if you’re really looking to pump in the good stuff!
If you’re lucky enough to have any of this leftover, you’ll notice that the flavor (especially the spice) intensifies as it sits. That means the next few days you’re likely to clean out the sinuses if you added any of the optional jalapenos. I’ve found that freezing chilis and other soups makes for easy meals later in the month. I’ve really been loving my Food Saver Vac but you can also do this in gallon sized Ziploc bags once cooled. Just remove all the air possible and freeze flat for easy storage. And as mentioned above, hold off on the heavy cream if you have the intensions of freezing. The evaporated milk will be fine but the heavy cream could separate and just not be as pleasant reheated. Kept in the refrigerate in a air tight container, it will last about 5 days after originally made.
Canning Turkey Chili
This chili could easily be pressure canned and saved for later, but keep in mind that during the canning process the squash specifically, will break down a bit more than it already is. One way to get around that is to make a batch specifically for pressure canning and add the vegetables as raw ingredients to the rest of the chili once cold. From there, pressure can the finished chili at 75 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts, adjusting the pressure based on your elevation. Again, leave out the heavy cream until you’re ready to serve and heating it on the stovetop.
Turkey Butternut Squash Chili
- 5 quart dutch oven
- vegetable peeler
- Cutting board
- can opener
- wooden spoon
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound butternut squash peeled and 1 inch cubes
- 1/2 cup chopped carrots 1/2 inch in size
- 1 medium yellow onion diced small
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 dried sage leaves or 1 teaspoon ground sage
- 1-1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 32 ounces chicken stock
- 1/2 pound leftover turkey dark meat, about 2 cups chopped
- 12 ounce s evaporated milk
- 1/4 cup heavy cream optional
- 2 ounces pickled jalapenos, chopped optional
- In a 5 quart dutch oven over medium heat on the stovetop, add the olive oil, butternut squash, and chopped carrots. Allow to sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the diced onion and sauté for another 5 minutes.
- Add the spices and minced garlic. Cook until fragrant. About a minute.
- Pour in the chicken stock and add the leftover turkey. Stir and simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Add evaporated milk, heavy cream, and pickled jalapenos. Simmer an additional 5 minutes.