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Slow Cooker Chorizo Chili

slow cooker chorizo chili

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
Serves 6-8

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

  1. 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.
  2. Add next 9 ingredients (through beer), stir, and cover. Cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours or HIGH for 3 to 4 hours.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!

This Post Has 17 Comments

  1. Crunchy Con Mommy

    Yum! My husband will be thrilled when I make this…I think I’ll do it secretly and surprise him with it someday when he comes home from work 😉

  2. Sabrina

    I wonder how this would work with Soyrizo? Pork-eater that I am, I really like that stuff.

    1. Debbie Koenig

      Sabrina, I don’t know! Have you had success using soy products in the slow cooker? I’ve never tried & I’m not sure if they hold up to the many hours of cooking, kwim?

      And thanks for the heads-up about it being good–I’ve always wondered about that stuff.

  3. Crunchy Con Mommy

    Ok stupid question: does it matter what kind of beer you use? We don’t drink and don’t keep alcohol on hand, so I’m going to be pretty clueless when I walk into the liquor department of the grocery store. And they will probably just laugh at me if I ask where the bottles of beer best for cooking are. Any advice???
    PS I found chorizo in the refrigerated section. No indication of Spanish vs Mexican (didn’t say smoked or fresh either)
    This culinary adventure is proving more exciting that I initially expected!

    1. Debbie Koenig

      No, it doesn’t really matter at all! Just don’t go with a “lite” beer, since that will be more like water than anything. As for the chorizo, does it feel squishy or firm? You want the squishy kind–it should look & feel raw. Hope that helps!

        1. Debbie Koenig

          Hey that’s great! Thanks for reporting back. What kind of beer did you end up with?

  4. Valerie

    Is there anything I can substitute for the beer? My husband is allergic :/

    1. Debbie Koenig

      Sure. You could use red wine, or beef broth. Flavor will be slightly different, but it’ll still work just fine!

  5. lauralee

    My boyfriend and I just moved in to a new place and we only have a little bit of food chorizo being one of the things in my fridge I surprised my boyfriend when he came home from work he loved it I also used budweiser as the beer it turned out soo good def using it again thanks for the recipie

  6. Moon

    What would you say if I tell you, [as a mexican] that chorizo substitutes are most commonly not of beef nature, but first chicken, then soy, last of turkey and almost never made of beef!
    Anyway, my favorite is made of soy and it’s sold in U.S. as Soyrizo. (various brands).
    I would think that if I use Soyrizo for making this recipe, I would have to lower the cooking time…. But how do you think it would mix with the beer?

  7. Daniel

    This might be a silly question, but is there a specific type of onion I should chop up to put into the chili while cooking? I saw red onion in the bottom as a topping, but I wasn’t sure if there is a certain type more suitable for cooking chili? Also I’m considering using a robust porter for the beer ingredient. If you’re not familiar with the porter style, it’s a beer with rich roasted malt flavors and a bit smoky. Do you think this might be suitable addition instead of a lager style beer like Budwiser/Corona?

    1. Debbie Koenig

      Hi Daniel. Not a silly question at all! You can use a regular ol’ yellow onion, the kind that come in the mesh bags at the supermarket, or a white onion. And I’d say that if you enjoy the more robust flavor in a porter, by all means give it a shot! Sounds yummy to me. Please report back!

      1. Daniel

        It turned out great! I ended up using a dark wheat beer spiced with chili and cocoa nibs that was bought a long time ago but never drank. I didn’t care much for it as a beer, but as an ingredient it was perfect!

        1. Debbie Koenig

          That’s wonderful, Daniel–thanks so much for coming back! It does sound like it would be a perfect fit for this recipe.

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