Fennel + Shiitake Turkey Chili, w/Sunchoke “Croutons” + Avocado Relish

2 Feb

turkey chili - in bowl 2

Chili is the perfect “dinner-in-a-bowl” for cold winter nights.  The great thing about chili is that it’s a make-a-lot-of dish that will feed my very hungry husband for at least a couple of meals, and it tastes even better the next day.   Also, chili is great for a casual party like, say, Superbowl Sunday.  Sadly, chili disappeared for a while from our dinner repertoire when we began eating paleo, because my old recipe involved beans, corn, and maple syrup, none of which we eat anymore.  This winter, I thought I would conceive a new, paleo-friendly chili — and so I experimented with fennel, hoping fennel would add a nice texture as well as some sweetness to the chili.  I also cooked up sunchokes (aka Jerusalem artichokes) to make some “crouton-like” garnish for texture and an avocado relish to cut the heat.  The result is our new paleo chili, which we are sure to enjoy throughout the winter!  We loved the fennel in the chili, and the sunchokes added a lovely earthiness.



  • 3 lbs. ground turkey (we prefer dark meat)
  • 3 red onions, diced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 fennel bulbs, halved, corded, then sliced into about 1/4 in. pieces (**also, keep and chop finely the green parts — the fennel tops)
  • 1/2 lb. shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 4 tbsp chili ancho
  • 1 tbsp chili chipotle
  • 3 tbsp cumin
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 4 cups chicken stock + 1 cup water
  • 25 oz. crushed tomatoes (in glass jar)


  • 3 avocados, chopped into cubes
  • 1/2 red onion, finely minced
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • Juice of 2 small limes


  • 1 lb. sunchokes, peeled and chopped into 1/2 in. cubes

In a dutch oven (or large pot) on medium high heat, drizzle some olive oil and saute the garlic and onions.  Salt the onions to let them sweat.

turkey chili - onions n garlic

When the onions soften a little, add the mushrooms.

turkey chili - add shiitake

Once the mushrooms soften a little, add the spices (ancho, chipotle, cumin).  Mix well and cook for about 2 minutes.

turkey chili - add spices

Next, add the white wine and de-glaze the bottom of the dutch oven.  Cook until the wine is reduced.

turkey chili - add white wine

Add the turkey.  Mix well.

turkey chili - add turkey

Add the chicken stock, water, and tomatoes.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.

WHILE THE CHILI IS SIMMERING — make the avocado relish and the sunchoke “croutons.”

For the avocado relish: Mix the ingredients together (as outlined above), season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the sunchoke croutons: Drizzle olive oil in a skillet (about 1 tbsp) and pan-fry the sunchoke cubes until they are cooked and browned; season with salt and pepper.  Set aside on a plate over a paper towel (to absorb excess oil).

turkey chili - finish sunchokes in oven


After the chili has simmered for 30 minutes, add the fennel.  Mix and cook for another 30 minutes.

turkey chili - add fennel

Taste and add salt as necessary.   Add the fennel tops (green part), finely chopped.  Cook for another 15 minutes or so.

turkey chili - add fennel tops

Ladle the chili into a bowl, and top with a sprinkling of the sunchoke “croutons” and a dollop of the avocado relish.  Take a spoon, dig in and enjoy (be careful, it will be hot)!

turkey chili - in bowl 1


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