I loves me some chorizo. Doesn’t matter if it’s the Spanish kind, scented with smoked paprika and cured (so it needs no additional cooking), or the Mexican kind, which gets its heat from chilies and is typically sold raw. Only problem for this formerly kosher fan: pork. Both versions are piggy. And while I’ll eat it in restaurants, hypocrite that I am, I won’t serve it at home. So just picture the little happy dance I did at the Union Square Farmers’ Market last week, when I discovered a stand selling Mexican-style chorizo made of beef.
Yeah, I got some.
And yeah, later on (as in, after this chili was a-cooking) I thought to email the farmer and see what the casings were made of. Can you guess? Pig intestine. Oops. I’ve decided it’s ok, because for this recipe the sausage is removed and the casings discarded. I can rationalize anything, really. Especially when it’s the key to the best chili I’ve ever made. That’s right: the best chili I’ve ever made.
In addition to the outrageously good flavor chorizo brings to the chili pot, it also offers another benefit: It makes things extremely easy. Much of the seasoning in this recipe comes from the sausage itself, so be sure to use one you enjoy on its own. And using the slow cooker (the busy parent’s best friend) makes this so foolproof you’ll be jumping for joy/turning cartwheels/dancing your own happy dance. Brown the sausage separately since it’s bound to be quite fatty, and then just toss all the ingredients into the insert, turn on the machine, and walk away.
Slow Cooker Chorizo Chili
1 pound Mexican chorizo (that’s the fresh kind, not the Spanish smoked one)
One 10-ounce can Ro-Tel tomatoes and green chilies
1 large onion, chopped
1 large red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bottle beer
1-2 tablespoons cornmeal
One 15-ounce can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Cooked rice (white or brown), chopped red onion, diced avocado, sliced black olives, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, tortilla or corn chips, and whatever else you like on your chili, for serving
- Remove the chorizo from the casings and brown in a large skillet over medium heat. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the meat to the slow cooker’s insert.
- Add next 9 ingredients (through beer), stir, and cover. Cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours or HIGH for 3 to 4 hours.
- About 30 minutes before you’d like to eat, stir in the cornmeal (start with 1 tablespoon, and add the 2nd if it seems too soupy) and the kidney beans, then recover and let it finish cooking.
- Taste and add more salt if necessary. Serve with your favorite toppings.
MAKE BABY FOOD: You know your baby—if she’s enjoyed spicy food before, then give her a taste. Thanks to the long cooking time, only trace amounts of the beer’s alcohol will remain. If hot stuff isn’t your baby’s thing, you can build a full meal from just the toppings.
Did you know there’s a Slow Cooker Challenge happening this week? Check out The Naptime Chef and Small Kitchen College for roundups of all the recipes. There are enough to keep your slow cooker humming for weeks!