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Cook: Now or Never Chili

It’s Veteren’s Day, and like many, I’m forever grateful to those who have served our country.  It’s a incredible sacrifice for both them and their families, and I hope I never lose sight of that.

However, this Veteren’s Day, I’m thinking of one veteran in particular.  My Grandfather, Len Charpentier, served as an Army Pilot during World War II and, as one would expect, it was a major part of what made him, him.  He had stories that were so incredible they sounded like plots to movies, except that these stories were just, like, his life.  He’d start to tell you a story, and just when he was getting to the amazing, unbelievable, movie-plot part, he’d say “but I’m boring you.  You probably don’t want to hear about this.”  And that was just how Granddaddy was.
He was charming and intelligent and loved food, wine, the Dallas Cowboys, and a room full of people.  He read cookbooks like novels and subscribed to almost every food and wine magazine there was.  Did I mention the man was charming?
For real.
I was recently flipping through some back issues of his subscription to Cooks’ Country and I found a recipe for Slow-Cooker Turkey Chili.  Nothing about this recipe would have caught my eye–it was just your average chili recipe–except that next to the picture of the bowl of chili was written, in Granddaddy’s handwriting, “Now or Never.”
It’s simple and to the point, yet acutely profound.  Kind of like him.

I decided that with the cooler weather and the beautiful leaves, that yes, it was “now or never”, and it was definitely time for chili.

This recipe calls for ground spices toasted in a dry pan until just fragrant.  Granddaddy had highlighted this step, which makes me giggle, because it’s so like him.  He was the type of guy that had everything in his garage secured by the properly sized bungee cord.  Not only was nothing out of place, but nothing was going to fall out of place.  Precision, people.

I topped mine with grated jack cheese, but other toppings could include but are not limited to: sour cream, chopped green onions, cheddar cheese, raw onions, cilantro, etc.

This recipe was delicious.  It was a little spicy and smoky and sweet.  It was rich and hearty, just like a good bowl of chili should be.

But let’s get back to the “now or never” part.  Friends, let’s live this.  On a day like today, when we are all purposefully thinking about our veterans and the people who sacrifice so much, so that we can make chili on a Tuesday night, let’s remember, it’s now or never.  This is life.  It’s happening right now.

You don’t have to make chili, but go do something that you’ve been wanting to do.  Do something that makes you feel full inside.  Get inspired.  Laugh!  Eat carbs–or don’t, whatever.  Drink wine.  Smile at a stranger.  Hug someone!  Definitely thank a veteran.

This may be just a bowl of chili, but to Granddaddy, a proud veteran, I guess it seemed so intriguing to him that he felt the need to remind himself, it’s now or never.  And because of this, thankfully, I’m reminded as well.

Here’s the recipe!

Now or Never Chili (Adapted from Cooks’ Country)


  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 yellow onions, diced
  • bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3 canned chipotles, minced, plus more of the adobo sauce
  • salt and pepper


  1. In a large dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat and add onions. Cook until softened, about 7 minutes. Add bell pepper and cook for 4 minutes more. Add ground turkey and garlic and cook, breaking meat up with a spoon, until turkey is no longer pink. Season with freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Stir in beans, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth, brown sugar, minced chipotles, and adobo sauce. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 1 hour, stirring every so often.
  3. When chili is finished, taste for seasonings and add salt if needed. Serve with your desired chili toppings–I used cheese because cheese is never wrong.


4 thoughts on “Cook: Now or Never Chili

  1. Truly, Hatsie, you are so special–a fine writer, apparently a great cook, but mostly a wonderful person. Thank you for sharing all your talents with us–I know your granddaddy was so proud of you! Love you.

  2. You write… cook… live… rock! So enjoyed your blog and the message! I'm going to make today the best day ever! So proud of you! Your mother done good!

  3. God bless you, sweetheart, for loving your dear Grandfather as you do, and for caring about the veterans. That chili looks fantastic!

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