Pushing all the warm, meaty, spicy buttons: Chicken Chorizo Chili

by Terry B on January 10, 2018

Spicy, flavorful Mexican chorizo sausage and chunks of chicken are at the heart of this robust, meaty chili. Dark beer helps amp up the flavor too. Recipe below.

Chicken Chorizo Chili

The bitter cold Marion wrote about last week just keeps coming. So when I discovered a new-to-me chili—chicken chorizo chili, to be precise—all kinds of delicious buttons were pushed.

go-to-the-recipeWe did a quick run up to Milwaukee last weekend and had lunch at one of our new favorite places there, Simple Cafe. The place itself is colorful, friendly and noisy. And the menu is small, but eclectic, with a lot of thought and effort put into making even simple-sounding items taste just so. To add to its wonderfully relaxed vibe, Simple offers its breakfast menu all day long. And that’s where I discovered chicken chorizo chili, tucked into and spooned over a fluffy omelet.

We’re big fans of chili here, cold weather or no. Our go-to is Marion’s weeknight-quick Three-Bean Chili. And once in a great while, we’ll get in the mood for my flavorful but not fiery White Chili, with some surprising aromatics, chicken, white beans and no tomato products (hence the pale color). Now, having made my version of chicken chorizo chili, I think it’s going to become part of our regular chili rotation.

The key to this dish is Mexican chorizo. Unlike the cured, hard chorizo sausages of Spain and Portugal, Mexican chorizo is typically sold fresh and uncooked—sometimes loose, sometimes in sausage casings. Most often, it is made of fatty pork and flavored with chiles, garlic and many spices, including paprika, which gives it a distinctive red color. Mexican chorizo can be found, predictably, in markets in Mexican neighborhoods. It’s starting to show up in some mainstream supermarkets. And if you really want to try this chili, but can’t find chorizo, there are a number of promising recipes online, like this one from Serious Eats.

The seasonings in chorizo bring lots of flavor to the party, and the canned beans and tomatoes and tomato paste all bring some salt. So use a light hand with the salt shaker when cooking. It’s easier to add later than to take it out. Some recipes call for using ground chicken in addition to the chorizo. I think that would only dilute the overall flavor. This version gives you bites of unadulterated chorizo along with chunky bites of chicken, adding variety to this robust, flavorful dish.

Chicken Chorizo Chili
Serves 4 to 6

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped (1 to 1-1/2 cups)
12 ounces Mexican chorizo, casings removed
12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons chili powder (see Kitchen Notes)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 cup dark beer (see Kitchen Notes)
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken stock
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

sour cream (optional)
sliced scallion tops for garnish (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or a large, deep sauté pan over medium flame. Add onion and red bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion softens, about 3 minutes. Add chorizo and chicken to pan and season lightly with salt and generously with black pepper. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally and breaking up chorizo with a wooden spoon.

Clear a space in the center of the pan and add the tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, oregano and garlic. Cook, stirring, until tomato paste is slightly browned (but not burned) 2 minutes or so. Stir everything together and add tomatoes, beer and chicken stock. Stir everything together thoroughly and add cannellini and kidney beans.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partly covered, for 30 to 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, and if it starts to dry out, add a little water. (For me, it actually took the full 45 minutes for the liquid to reduce to the right amount.) Taste and adjust seasonings with salt, if needed—I didn’t need to add any. Serve, topping each bowl with sour cream and scallions, if desired.

Kitchen Notes

Chili powder(s). Most store-bought chili powders are fine, but ones you get at spice shops are better. For this recipe, I used 1 tablespoon of ancho chile powder and 1 tablespoon of red New Mexican chile powder.

Dark beer and standard measures. Any dark beer you have on hand (or even non-dark beer, I suppose) will do. The recipe calls for a cup of beer, but most bottles come in 12 ounces. Do I really need to tell you what to do with the leftovers?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

John/Kitchen Riffs January 10, 2018 at 8:49 am

I almost never use chorizo in chili for some reason. A mistake — it adds a lot to the party. And I’ve never combined it with chicken. This looks terrific — and although it’s pretty warm today, it’s going to be cold again this weekend, when this would be perfect. Thanks!

Dani H January 10, 2018 at 9:18 pm

I’ve used Mexican chorizo for breakfast burritos but not in chili. And I’m quite partial to ancho chile powder. It’s especially good in guacamole.

Sounds like another winning recipe, Terry. Thanks and Happy New Year!

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