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Chili and biscuits in one pan

  • NEW YORK TIMES PHOTO

Cooking a big pot of beef, beans and spices for hours may be one of the most traditional ways to make chili. But it’s not the only way, and it’s not what I’ve been doing lately as my beef consumption continues to plummet.

To my mind, once you have all those beans and onions and chiles and spices simmering away, adding beef to the pot is simply a waste. I eat beef so infrequently that, when I do, I want it to be the star of the plate — a rare steak, a juicy burger, tender morsels of short rib or brisket dripping their heady gravy onto my generously buttered noodles. Or maybe I’ll even go for a pot of beef chili without any beans at all (which, according to multitudes in Texas and beyond, is the only acceptable way to prepare it).

Instead, I usually stick to bean chilies that are either vegetarian or spiked with a little ground turkey or chicken for flavor and heft. I also forgo the hours of simmering because, when it’s cooked in a wide skillet instead of a deep pot, the whole thing comes together weeknight fast, in about an hour. For this exceptionally cozy version, I crown the chili with cornmeal biscuits before baking. It’s a bit like a tamale pie, an American classic that has nothing to do with Latin American tamales and everything to do with streamlined one-pot meals.

When nestled on top of the chili, the biscuits stay softer underneath than they would if baked separately on a pan — a welcome contrast to their crisp and golden tops.

For this recipe, I did include some ground turkey (or chicken), but feel free to leave it out and add an extra can or two of beans instead. Another possible poultry option is ground duck, which adds loads of depth but can be hard to find. And fake meat works perfectly here as well.

If you’re a planner, you can make the cornmeal batter and the chili several hours ahead — or even the night before — then bake them together right before serving, so the biscuits are at their most tender. A dollop of sour cream or yogurt at the end isn’t strictly necessary, but the cool milkiness is lovely with the spicy, meaty — or meatless — chili.

One-Pot Turkey Chili and Biscuits

Ingredients for the biscuits:

• 1 cup all-purpose flour

• 2/3 cup/92 grams fine cornmeal

• 2 teaspoons baking powder

• 1 teaspoon sugar

• 1/2 teaspoon fine sea or table salt

• 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

• 8 tablespoons/113 grams cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

• 3/4 cup/177 milliliters buttermilk or plain whole milk yogurt

• 1 scallion, thinly sliced, plus more for serving

Milk or more buttermilk or yogurt, for finishing

• 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan, for finishing

Ingredients for the chili:

• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

• 1 pound ground turkey

• 1 large yellow onion, diced

• 1 jalapeño, seeded (if desired) and diced

• 3 garlic cloves, finely grated, passed through a press or minced

• 1 tablespoon chili powder

• 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea or table salt, plus more to taste

• 1 teaspoon dried oregano

• 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

• 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes (1 3/4 cups)

• 2 (15-ounce) cans pinto or black beans, drained and rinsed

• 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems

Sour cream (or Greek yogurt) and pickled jalapeños, for serving (optional)

Directions:

Prepare the biscuits: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, salt and baking soda. Using a pastry cutter or your hands, cut or rub in the butter until mixture resembles rolled oats. Fold in the buttermilk and scallion. Gently stir mixture until it comes together in a moist, sticky mass. Cover bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Start the chili: In a large ovenproof skillet, heat oil over high heat until it thins. Stir in turkey and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until it’s no longer pink with some browned bits, about 7 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium-high, and add onion and jalapeño, and cook until translucent and tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, chili powder, 1 teaspoon salt, oregano, cumin and pepper, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute longer.

Using kitchen shears or your hands, break up tomatoes and add them, along with the juices, to the pan. Add beans and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until slightly thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. If the mixture seems very dry, add a few tablespoons water. It should be juicy-looking but not wet. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro. Taste and add more salt, if needed. Divide biscuit dough into 6 equal balls. Use your palm to flatten each ball into a 3/4-inch-thick disk. Arrange on top of turkey chili. Brush biscuits lightly with milk, and sprinkle grated Parmesan on top. Transfer skillet to oven and cook until biscuits are golden at the edges, 25-30 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with sour cream and pickled jalapeños, if you like, and more scallions.

Total time: 1 hour, serves 4-6.

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