This year, in 2017, Brian and I will celebrate our 18 year wedding anniversary. It’s crazy how fast time has flown by and looking back, what we’ve done and achieved is pretty amazing. As we have grown and changed over the years, our family has grown, and our careers have followed twisting paths, our roles around the house have changed too.
While I manage the groceries and do almost all the cooking now, for the first 13 years we were married, I never cooked. Brian cooked or we ate out. I could bake like nobody’s business, but I couldn’t cook a meal unless I had a recipe to follow step-by-step. Brian on the other hand is a phenomenal cook. With two working parents, he started cooking and prepping dinner as a kid, then when his first career led him to the fire department, he honed his cooking skills even further. Brian could walk into a pantry, look around a bit, and create a full blown meal — and still can.
When Brian was diagnosed with Gall Bladder Cancer, there wasn’t much I could do to help him… but I could ease his stress by taking over the grocery shopping, cooking all the meals, and reducing our spending by eating at home instead of eating out. Those first few meals were a bit tough to eat, as I was heavy-handed with the salt, but I’m finally at a place where I can walk into a pantry, look around, and create a meal. It’s a big deal for me and for our family.
But that doesn’t mean Brian never cooks anymore — Brian is still in charge of all holiday meals. For Christmas, I made sweet potato casserole and he made smoky barbecued turkey, a savory loaded stuffing, and homemade turkey gravy. At the time, Brian cut off the smoked turkey legs and froze each one separately to use later in homemade soups, stews, or chilis, and recently made this thick and hearty Mixed Lentil and Bean Chili With Smoked Turkey, which was amazing.
Start with a bag of mixed lentils and a bag of mixed soup beans from the bulk foods section of the grocery store. He added 1 1/2 cups of lentil mix and 1 1/2 cups bean mix to a large bowl, covered them in water, and soaked them overnight. You really want to soak them about 24 hours.
When it was time to start the chili, Brian turned the slow cooker on high and transferred the lentil and bean mix to the slow cooker, leaving about three inches of space at the top.
He then added a frozen smoked turkey leg, scooping some of the beans and lentils around it and adding enough water to cover everything.
Next he added some seasonings (about half the total amount of seasonings), including onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, ground cumin, salt and black pepper. Then the lid went on and we let it cook on high. We were able to get the slow cooker lid on all the way, but if you can’t, it’s okay to just cover the top completely in foil.
After about two hours, it’s time to reduce the slow cooker to low heat and let it cook for two more hours.
At the four hour mark, check the turkey leg. At this point the meat should be soft and tender, and it should start to fall right off the bone. Remove the turkey bones and break up the turkey meat a bit with a fork or wooden spoon. You don’t have to worry about this too much though, because the smoked turkey meat will continue to break apart as the chili keeps cooking.
At this point take a look at the mixture of lentils, beans, and turkey. If they look dry, you can add a bit of water, but don’t add too much because the veggies you’re going to add next will also add moisture to the chili as they cook down.
Next, it’s time to add the vegetables.
You need two medium tomatoes, a couple different bell peppers, and a yellow onion. Brian chopped the tomato and about half of the yellow onion and added them to the slow cooker. He then chopped up the bell peppers and added about one cup of mixed peppers. You don’t have to use multiple types of bell peppers. We just like the variety in flavors and colors.
Let the Mixed Lentil and Bean Chili With Smoked Turkey cook for 2-3 more hours, then do a taste test to see if you need more seasonings. Brian adds a bit more onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, ground cumin, and black pepper, but no more salt. He also prefers things on the spicy side, so this is when he adds some cayenne pepper too!
Let the entire mixture simmer for another 60 minutes or so and then you’ll be ready to eat.
This Mixed Lentil and Bean Chili With Smoked Turkey is thick, hearty, and delicious.
With all the lentils and beans, the chili will fill you up fast, so you don’t need to serve huge portions. Instead, go with smaller portions and serve up some biscuits or a side salad.
QUICK TIP: The chili will thicken even more in the refrigerator. When reheating the leftovers, scoop out the amount of chili you want to reheat into a sauce pan, add a bit of vegetable broth, and stir it together over medium heat until warm.
Mixed Lentil and Bean Chili With Smoked Turkey
Drop a whole turkey leg in your slow cooker with mixed lentils and beans for a delicious, smoky, hearty chili.
- 1 1/2 cup lentil mix
- 1 1/2 cup mixed soup bean mix
- 1 smoked turkey leg
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 cup chopped bell peppers, combination of different varieties
- Add lentil mix and bean mix to a large bowl, cover with water, and soak for 24 hours.
- Turn slow cooker on high. Add lentil and bean mix, frozen smoked turkey leg, and cover it water. Leave three inches space at the top of the slow cooker.
- Add 1 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/4 tsp pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook for 2 hours.
- Reduce slow cooker to medium heat and cook for 2 more hours. After 4 hours total, check the smoked turkey leg. If the meat is falling off the bone, remove the bone and break apart the turkey meat.
- If the beans and lentils look a little dry, you can add a bit more water. Add tomatoes, bell peppers, and onion. Cover and cook for 2-3 more hours.
- Add remaining seasonings: 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/4 tsp pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper.
- Simmer Mixed Lentil and Bean Chili With Smoked Turkey for 1 more hour and serve.