Tuesday Dinner: Chorizo and Pinto Bean Chili

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So, my primary source for raw chorizo in the area is Nichols Supermarket in Liverpool. I could have traveled out to Manlius and hit Side Hill Farmers, but 45 minutes roundtrip in the car for a pound of sausage seemed silly. I should make a batch of my own and freeze it. Anyhow, I went to Nichols to find out that they weren’t making chorizo regularly anymore. The change in seasons and shuttering of grills meant that they were dialing back their sausage making.

I was angry, or as angry as one can get over sausage availability. What they did have was something called “Cuban chorizo” made with chicken, instead of pork. I’ve heard of Mexican and Spanish, but Cuban was new to me. Apparently, this is a milder version loaded up with cilantro. And, there are worse things in the world than a bunch of cilantro. Ebola, for instance.

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WHAT WORKED: Everything went together they way it should have. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt of Serious Eats is a first-rate recipe developer.

WHAT DIDN’T: I wish I had the standard Mexican chorizo for this. The Cuban didn’t quite have the bite I was hoping for.

WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: Nothing, but she kept spooning more out and dunking Tostitos in the pan. I’ll take that as a good thing.

WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: It’s nice to have another chili to go to.

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Chorizo and Pinto Bean Chili
Adapted lightly from the original by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt at Serious Eats

  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 lb. store-bought or homemade fresh raw chorizo, casings removed if necessary
  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 3 tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 14 oz. can diced or chopped tomatoes packed in juice
  • 2 tsp. Asian fish sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 14 or 15 oz. cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed

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Pour oil into a Dutch oven over high heat. When it shimmers, add the chorizo. Cook, using a wooden spoon, spatula or potato masher to break up the meat, for 5 minutes, or until the sausage is browned through.

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Add onion and garlic. Stir in and cook until the onions are soft but not brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the chili powder, cumin and oregano, and cook until the cumin is fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes, bay leaf, beans, fish sauce, and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and cook 30 minutes. The chili should be nice and thick with a rich, flavorful liquid.

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Remove the bay leaf, adjust flavors with salt and pepper, and serve with diced avocado, shredded cheddar, sour cream, scallions and/or tortilla chips.

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