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Turkey Chili

No one questions that chili is a hearty dish, but does it have to be fattening?  By switching from beef to turkey, a significant amount of fat is eliminated, with zero sacrifice of flavor.  Cook time is disproportionate to prep time, so this is something that is easily started, forgotten, and then it’s practically ready!  Plus, leftovers the next day taste even better because there is more time for the flavors to marry and soak into the beans and meat!

turkey chili

turkey chili

Makes 8-10

1 1/4 lbs. of ground turkey

4 cups of beef broth

24 oz. of beer or ale

16 oz. of tomato sauce

12 oz. of dry pinto beans

1 can of kidney beans

1 large white onion

1/4 cup of chili powder

1/4 cup of corn flour

6 garlic cloves, minced

3 tbs. of tomato paste

2-3 tbs. of kosher salt (to taste, see below)

1 tbs. of cumin

Soak the dry pinto beans in water, preferably overnight.  Drain and thoroughly rinse the kidney beans.  Set aside for now.

Dice the onion, and cook in a dutch oven over medium-low heat on the stove until only lightly caramelized.  Turn the heat to high, then add the salt and meat to the onion, cooking long enough just to brown the meaat.  Add the chili powder, tomato paste, and cumin; stirring frequently, cook for 2 minutes.  Add the broth, beer, tomato sauce, pinto beans, and garlic, and cover to cook for 3-4 hours, or however long it takes for the pinto beans to be tender.  Add 1 tbs. of salt at each hour of cook time – but make sure to taste it first, because you don’t want to add more when it is already salted to your liking.  Add the kidney beans when 1 hour remains before being considered “done,” and add the corn flour when 30 minutes remain.

Garnish with shredded mild cheddar and sour cream, an serve with warmed corn tortillas or cornbread.

Athens Burger Restaurant, Dublin CA

When we opened the door to Athens Burger Restaurant on 6999 Dublin Blvd, the delicious smell of char overcame us.  Visually, it was impressive to watch the tables and booths fill up quickly.  Based on the messages received from those two senses alone, we knew that a third, taste, would be on par.  Happy crowds don’t lie.

housemade onion rings, zucchini sticks, and ranch

housemade onion rings, zucchini sticks, and ranch

Many of the menu items are made in house, such as the onion rings and zucchini sticks.  The onions used were super quality and cooked to the perfect point of doneness, so the breading was crunchy and the sweet onions remained slightly crisp.  It’s always a plus to be able to bite through an onion ring without pulling the onion out of the breading.  The zucchini sticks had a different breading than the onion rings with more of a bread crumb base.  Lightly breaded, the sweet tender centers contrasted the texture of the crunchy exterior.  Both the onion rings and the zucchini sticks were yummy, but the ranch dip really complemented them.  Housemade as well, like most of the condiments, the ranch was thick and creamy with a bright array of herb flavors, dill being the star.

chili cheese fries

chili cheese fries

Daily sandwich specials come with a choice of soup, salad, or fries, but Zach wanted to try the chili cheese fries so he upgraded his side.  While the fries were prepared from a frozen state, they were not poor quality.  The main attraction, though, passed picky Zach’s chili test because it was housemade and tasty.  No beans meant more need for meat, so the chili was very thick and hearty.  Medium spices with flavors of cumin and chili powder were balanced well, and tons of cheddar cheese made it gooey and sumptuous.

chipotle burger, doubled

chipotle burger, doubled

Zach’s daily sandwich special was the chipotle burger with cheese, bacon, and chipotle sauce.  He doubled the patty and also swapped out the regular bun with seeds for a “junior bun,” so we can attest to Athens Burger’s customer accommodation.  The bacon was crisp and smoky, and the chipotle was more tangy than spicy – don’t be afraid of this burger if heat isn’t your thing, because the chipotle taste is there without the burn.  Loads of fresh, crispy vegetables complete each mouthful.

greek burger

greek burger

August ordered a signature burger, The Greek.  This had the same fresh, crispy veggies as Zach’s burger, but with its own cheese and sauce for distinction.  To give this a Greek twist, feta cheese and a housemade Greek dressing were added.  The feta had its oh-so-familiar flavor but was mild enough not to overpower the burger.  The dressing was tangy and rich with olives and a nice vinegar.  It was flavorful but, like the feta, not so much so that the delicious char of the meat was buried.

For dependable quality that entertains multiple senses, Athens Burger ranks high.  The concept of a burger is simple, but execution is key.  The crew at Athens Burger recognizes that, and the pride is apparent in every bite.

Inna Jam Pretty Spicy Fresno Chili

inna jam

inna jam

Inna Jam of Emeryville, CA is a small-batch organic jam company, using fruit exclusively from within 150 miles of the kitchen.  Strawberry, blackberry, and raspberry are standards for all jam makers, but how often do you see pluot?  Kiwi?  Jalapeño?!

spicy

spicy

The Pretty Spicy Fresno Chili jam is just what the name claims, pretty spicy.  The adventurous peanut butter and jelly sandwich eater would get a real kick out of this.  With deep chili taste and good jelly consistency, the balance of acidic-tangy-sweet is well done, so we think this would pair with a number of items.  Make a meat marinade or glaze.  Turn it into a reduction for a southwestern salad.  Kick up your stir fry.  Mix with cream cheese and scoop with crackers.  A dip would be awesome for chicken tenders, or toss your wings in it for a new flavor.  Smear it on toast with your eggs and orange juice for breakfast.  This is the kind of condiment that makes you creative, trying to figure out ways to use it.  Challenge your brain, and your taste buds.