white man's burden chili & the end of an era

Somehow, despite not deserving it by any means, I have maintained a group of three disgusting tight friends my whole adult life (often pictured here being embarrassing or ruining my furniture). Now all of a sudden we're in that 'phase' of 'adulthood' where people start moving across the countries. My boyfriend says 'it's like graduation season, except there's no timeline for when it's your turn.' And for the first among us, our name was called. Our favorite loafing friend heads out next week with an air mattress and an ancient laptop, exploring new levels of poverty and murder by living in what will inevitably be the Tenderloin, and never speaking to us again.

It's ceremonial to all get drunk in my apartment when it rains, so it's roughly a weekly tradition. While planning the last meal together before his departure, this conversation took place:

Me: so what if I made Uncle Wampum's Red Man Chili again, but I made it white this time instead? 
BF: ...then it's not 'red man chili, is it? 
BF again, after a thoughtful pause: why do you have to make it white, anyway?

It's a fair question. Why MUST I insist on making it white? Because eventually all colorful traditions must be stripped of their original character in order to be civilized? Because I have no respect for the sanctity of its native form? Because I can't stop until I've conquered the natural tendencies of this chili beast and forced it to conform to my will before benevolently, ever-so-tenderly giving it smallpox?

No. It's because it's summer and it goes well with Tecate, which is Cam's favorite value-brand beer.

It will be the last time we all talk about foot odor, the gaffe of needing to poop in my apartment when you could've gone before you left the house, or your fucking enraging refusal to get a credit card when you're so damn broke. It will be the last time anyone falls asleep sitting up and spills wine on the microsuede. RIP Cam. You're dead to us and we will miss you dearly.


Prep time: 15 minutes 
Total time: 1 hour 
Serves: 4 completely civilized individuals


  • 1 lb. ground turkey breast 
  • 3/4 of an onion, diced 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pancetta (it comes pre-chopped at TJ's) 
  • Olive oil 
  • 4 jalapenos, seeds removed from two, diced 
  • 2 huge poblano peppers, seeds removed, diced 
  • 1 can/carton cannellini beans, drained but unrinsed 
  • 2 cups chicken broth 
  • 1 huge pour of hot sauce (poblano or peri-peri works best here; anything too red will bloody your masterwork) 
  • 1 bottle Mexican beer 
  • Dried oregano 
  • CUMIN, and lots of it 
  • Salt + pepper 
  • Cilantro leaves, stripped and torn 
  • 1 lime 
  • Shredded pepperjack 
  • Sour cream 
  • Extra salty tortilla chips.


  1. Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven (5 qt. +). Add the onions, garlic, and pancetta. Brown all of this over medium-low heat.
  2. While this cooks, get the peppers ready by mutilating their tender inner flesh and tearing out their seeds.
  3. Add the ground turkey heap to the onions and pancetta mixture. Break this up until the outsides of the turkey have turned white, regardless of whether it's cooked through.
  4. Wonder what Rudyard Kipling would've gone by socially had if he were alive today. Yard?
  5. Add the jalapeรฑos and poblanos, the sort-of drained beans, beer, chicken broth, oregano, cumin, and hot sauce. Bring all the way up to a boil just to kill anything uncivilized floating around in there.
  6. After a minute or two, drop to a simmer, and cover almost all the way (don't put the lid on fully, or the chili will obstinately refuse to thicken).
  7. Cook this for about 30-40 minutes.
  8. Think of the harms that whitewashing has wrought. Starbucks takeovers. 'Portland' people. Taco Bell.
  9. Think of things that have benefitted from the same, like renovated Red Line cars and industrial loft condos. Feel a wash of guilt that you've gone down this path.
  10. Check the chili. Does it stick to a chip? If so, you're done. If not, uncover completely and reduce the liquid for another ten minutes. (it means your temperature was too low to begin with โ€” the directions were right, but you messed them up.)
  11. Strip the cilantro leaves, much the same way the white man does with land from native peoples. Squeeze in an entire lime, pouring acid onto this plight.
  12. Top in pepperjack piles. Stir in sour cream if you like it.
  13. Feel burdened by the thought that, despite the intended irony, this version might be superior anyway.