Spicy and soothing, this is winter comfort food
When the weather turns cold in our part of the world, we like to head south of the border. Culinarily speaking, at least.
Mexican chorizo sausage makes a dynamite chili – especially when you combine its spice with sweet potatoes. Add some tomatoes, beans, and jalapeño pepper for a dish that will warm your heart and make your taste buds smile.
You like to smile, don’t you?
Recipe: Chorizo and Sweet Potato Chili
Chorizo originated on the Iberian peninsula (Spain and Portugal each make their own versions). Old-world chorizo is a pork-based hard sausage that’s stuffed into casings, then cured and smoked. Like salami (which it resembles), old-world chorizo doesn’t require cooking before you eat it.
New-world chorizo, which originated in Mexico, combines ground pork with seasonings. It’s not cured, so it needs to be cooked before you can eat it. Mexican chorizo is sold in casings and in bulk. The type sold in casings may be dried, but the bulk form is fresh – which means you want to cook it within a day or so of buying it.
This chili uses Mexican-style chorizo. We get ours at a local supermarket (they make their own bulk chorizo, and it’s pretty decent). Any Mexican grocery store with a meat department will carry it. Or you could make your own – see the Notes for a recipe.
Prep time for this dish is 15 to 20 minutes. Cooking time adds about 30 minutes. But this dish tastes even better if you make it a day ahead, then reheat it when you’re ready to serve.
This recipe makes about 2 quarts. Leftovers keep for a few days if refrigerated in an airtight container. Or you can freeze the leftovers for up to 3 months.
- 1 large onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 to 2 jalapeño peppers (to taste)
- ~1 pound bulk Mexican-style chorizo (if it’s in links, remove it from the casings)
- ~1 pound sweet potatoes
- salt to taste (about ½ teaspoon kosher salt; see Notes)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons mild or medium chile powder (see Notes)
- 2 teaspoons dried cumin
- 2 teaspoons dried coriander
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 14-ounce can diced tomatoes (double this if you wish)
- 2 15-ounce cans kidney beans (pinto beans or black beans would also work well)
- ~4 cups beef or chicken stock, or water
- ½ bunch cilantro
- Peel the onion, cut it in half through the poles, then cut it into thin slices or dice of about ½ inch. Set aside.
- Peel the garlic and mince it finely or cut it into thin slices. Set aside.
- Wash and dry the jalapeño pepper(s). Cut off the stem ends. Then cut the peppers in half lengthwise. With a teaspoon, scoop out the seeds and white membrane (the oil from the seeds carries much of the jalapeño heat; you can leave the seeds in if you prefer). Mince the peppers finely (reserving a few rounds for garnish if you wish). Set aside. Then wash your hands with soap and water to remove the spicy jalapeño oil from your skin.
- Place a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium stovetop heat (use one that holds at least 4 quarts). Add the chorizo to the cooking pot (break it up with a large spoon until it crumbles into smallish pieces; you don’t want big clumps of sausage). Cook the chorizo, stirring occasionally, until it’s browned.
- While the chorizo is cooking, peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into dice of about ½ inch. Set aside.
- When the chorizo is browned, pour (or spoon) off any excess grease, leaving about a tablespoon of grease in the cooking pot. Push the chorizo to the outside edges of the pot, then add the chopped onions and salt to taste. Cook for about 5 minutes (until the onions start to become translucent.) Then add the chopped garlic and jalapeño, and cook for an additional minute.
- Add the chile powder, cumin, coriander, and oregano. Stir to combine with the chorizo and onions. Add the diced tomato, chopped sweet potatoes, beans, and stock (or water). Bring the mixture to a simmer, then set a timer for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, wash the cilantro and chop it finely.
- When the timer goes off, taste the chili. Adjust the seasonings if necessary. You can let the chili simmer for a bit if you’re not yet ready to serve.
- When ready to serve: Add the chopped cilantro to the chili, stir to combine, and ladle up. We like to garnish this dish with jalapeño slices (see Notes for additional garnish ideas).
- Exact quantities aren’t critical in this recipe. So change things around to suit your own taste.
- You could garnish this chili with chopped cilantro if you prefer. Or sprinkle on some grated cheese (cheddar works, as does Mexican cotija cheese). A dollop of sour cream or yogurt would be good too. And maybe some oyster crackers. Even chopped onion or scallion. If it sounds good, it probably will be.
- Don’t like cilantro? Skip it or substitute parsley. (We like the flavor and color that cilantro gives the dish.)
- Chile (with an e) powder is made from dried ripe (red) chilies. Chili (with an i) powder is a mix of chile powder plus other seasonings, usually cumin, coriander, oregano, and salt. Lots of salt.
- We use chile (with an e) powder in this dish. If you don’t have chile powder on hand, you can substitute chili powder – we suggest about 3 tablespoons. If you go that route, leave out the cumin, coriander, and oregano (which are already incorporated in the chili powder). And maybe cut down the salt.
- BTW, we like to use a medium Hatch chile powder in this dish. But ancho chile powder is good too (it’s rather mild, though, so you might want to add some cayenne or hot sauce). Dried chipotle chile powder is also wonderful.
- This recipe makes a moderately spicy chili. Feel free to adjust the amount of chile powder to your taste.
- You could also add a bit of cayenne for more heat. We often put a bottle of hot sauce on the table for those who want lots of heat.
- We like kidney beans in chili, so that’s what we use. But pinto beans and chorizo pair really well, so you might prefer to use them. And black beans and pork (especially with sweet potatoes) always work well together.
- We use canned beans because they’re convenient and usually good quality. But use dried (cooked) beans if you prefer.
- Want to make your own chorizo? Here’s how: For each pound of ground pork (you could also use ground chicken, but pork has better flavor), you’ll need 2 to 3 tablespoons ancho chile powder (to taste; can also substitute a spicier chile powder), 2 to 3 teaspoons dried oregano, 2 tablespoons paprika (smoked is particularly nice), 1 tablespoon dried cumin, 1 to 2 teaspoons dried coriander, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon dried thyme, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (red wine vinegar works too). Mix the ground meat with the other ingredients. You can mix it all in a bowl with a spoon, but it’s easier to just knead all the ingredients with your hands (use disposable gloves to keep your hands clean). When all the ingredients are well combined, wrap the chorizo in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator overnight so all the flavors blend together. You can also freeze freshly made chorizo for up to a month.
- We use kosher salt in cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (the crystals are larger and more irregular, so they pack a measure less tightly). If using table salt, start with about half the amount we recommend. But always season to your taste, not ours.
“Yum,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “I never sausage a wonderful chili. One of your best creations!”
“Not too much work, either,” I said. “Making this chili was no chorizo.”
“Your puns are like sausage,” said Mrs K R. “I don’t want to see them being made.”
It’s getting chili in here.
You may also enjoy reading about:
Cabbage Chili with Spicy Sausage
BBQ Beef Brisket Chili
Chunky Chicken Chili with Green Chilies
Chunky Pork and Sweet Potato Chili
Lamb, Lentil, and Green Chile Chili
Meat and Potatoes Chili
Pulled Pork Green Chile Chili
Pumpkin and Pork Chili
Quinoa and Sweet Potato Chili
Roast Squash and Sweet Potato Chili with Kale
Slow Cooker Homestyle Chili
Sweet Potato Chili with Black Beans
Texas-Style Chili con Carne
Or check out the index for more
Perfect for the colder days. Now I have to look for one of your cocktails to serve at Thanksgiving.
Hi Gerlinde, isn't this nice? And you certainly have your choices when it comes to cocktails. :-) Thanks for the comment.
My daughter's pre Thanksgiving chili is in the slow cooker right now and we are all looking forward to it for dinner! Turkey is also in progress already.
best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com
Hi Mae, we really enjoy a chili dinner the night before Thanksgiving! :-) Thanks for the comment.
I want to faceplant into a giant bowl of this chili!
OMFG instead of turkey, I WANT THIS tomorrow for Thanksgiving!!!!!
Hi Ashley, sounds like a good plan. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi GiGi, well it has sweet potatoes in it, so really appropriate for Thanksgiving, no? :-) Thanks for the comment.
Perfect chili to cozy up in cold winter evening. I wish I can take a bowl of your chili right now.
I love chorizo, so tasty, with sweet potatoes must be even more delicious, yum!
Hi Holly, this really is chilly weather fare. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Natalia, chorizo and sweet potatoes really work well together. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Ha! I never "sausage" a wonderful chili made me laugh out loud! Love the addition of chorizo--perfect dinner on one of our cold Midwest days! Hope you have a relaxing Thanksgiving!
Chorizo and beans are dynamic, add some sweet potato and it is also now he healthy! Perfect for a weeknight with a loaf of crusty bread and a cold glass of cider. Very nice indeed, thanks John.
Hi Liz, we're terrible, aren't we? :-) Thanks for the comment, and Happy Thanksgiving!
Hi Merryn, this is wonderful stuff. Not necessarily the thing for your hot weather, but you have this to look forward to when the weather cools down! Thanks for the comment.
Yum, I love the sound to this. It would really pack a punch. Even in our Southern Hemisphere summer it would be a winner on a Friday night when eating late. Thanks for a great recipe.Cheers, Pauline
Chorizo and sweet potato chili...yes yes and yes...I love it, especially in this cold weather...thanks for this awesome recipe John.
Hi HRT, this doesn't pack TOO much of a punch, but if you really spice it up it sure would! :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love the smokey flavor of chorizo and it plays so well with sweet potatoes and beans. This sounds like a fantastic, soul warming chili.
Can't stop smiling! GREG
Hi Juliana, quite chilly here, so this would be wonderful tonight! :-) Thanks for the comment, and Happy Thanksgiving!
Hi Dahn, chorizo is super stuff, isn't it? Wonderful in this chili! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Greg, LOL, neither can we! :-) Thanks for the comment.
what a hearty little number KR. maybe a bit too much for a summery night here in queensland at the moment. i always find it amusing that there are different spellings for chilli:-) being old colonials, we do the english thing of putting two 'll's. cheers sherry
Hi Sherry, we're old colonials too, but we revolted when they told us we had to spell chili "chilli." :D Thanks for the comment.
It's cold and rainy over here and a good chili like this is exactly what I would love for my dinner! Love the combo of chorizo and sweet potato, John.
Hi Angie, this is great fare for cold and rainy weather! Thanks for the comment.
Sorry, John - I do not think anyone had to make us spell correctly, 'chilli' is 'chilli' as spelt in Oxford English which we do try to follow :) ! Nice recipe, but we only have the proper Spanish chorizo !!
A tummy-warming chili recipe John. Over here, we only get old world chorizo, so I make my own. Don't get me wrong, hard chorizo is a great smoked sausage, but sometimes you just need a Mexican chorizo fix and your recipe is well suited to satisfy that hankering for Mexican chorizo. I love the sweet potato addition.
I love this idea. Have not tried chorizo in chili but this is a brilliant idea. It is beyond cold here in the arctic tundra. A pot of warming chorizo and sweet potato chili is just what you need to warm up.
Hi Ron, Spanish-style chorizo is great! Just doesn't work in this dish. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Bobbi, it's been chilly lately! So it means chili needs to be on the menu. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Eha, I figured many people would have only Spanish-style chorizo, so I provided a recipe for Mexican-style in the Notes. And spelling is a fascinating subject! The way it's evolved. Shakespeare actually commented on the friction between "official" and "widely used but unofficial" spellings in Love Labor's Lost. Fun stuff! Thanks for the comment.
Dishes like this are what makes winter so good, hearty, warming and filling!
Hi Emma, we love this kind of food -- SO warming and filling. And good! :-) Thanks for the comment.
What a delicious and spicy dish this is. Had I still been a non vegetarian, I would have definitely enjoyed it :)
Like you said, this is comfort in a bowl, John! And ever since moving to Arizona, we have been making our own chorizo - so glad you give folks a recipe for it. So easy and so good when made fresh at home. I also appreciate that you give the difference between chile and chili.
Hi Taruna, we haven't used any of the vegetable-based (usually soy) protein products, but think chili would be a great way to use them. Chorizo sausage is so good in chili because it's flavored with chili spices. Bet you could do the same thing with one of those protein products. Might have to try that. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi David, we like making our own chorizo, and actually tend to spice it a bit differently every time we make it. But the stuff our supermarket makes is pretty good (not spicy enough, but we can take care of that!). Thanks for the comment.
That looks great, John!I made something similar but with spy chorizo and it was pretty good- warming and filling!
Hi Balvinder, it's cold and rainy here tonight -- chili weather! :-) Thanks for the comment.
I could use a pot of chili, it's been so chilly. I love the idea of using sweet potato this way. And thank you for the chorizo recipe!
Hi Jeff, that chorizo recipe is pretty basic -- there are a lot of variations you can try. :-) Thanks for the comment.
What a lovely chili and so hearty and tasty! How can you beat a chili with these ingredients. With the cold weather we and so many others are having, this chili is just perfect. Plus, I'm sure your house smells so good and comforting.
A perfect blend of a little spice and a little sweet. Not to mention it's total comfort food on these chilly nights.
Hi MJ, the aroma as we cooked this was SO enticing. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Carolyn, really chilly today. So that means chili. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Different riffs on chili are the best. It's one of those dishes that uses up leftovers and never gets boring.
Hi Laura, we LOVE making different kinds of chili. Such a fun dish to experiment with. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Thanks again for clarifying the difference between chil(e) and chil(i) powder. I still get a bit confused. I usually buy my packaged Mexican chorizo at the supermarket, but it is usually rather greasy or fatty- best to buy it fresh at the Mexican market. There's one near us, thank goodness!
Hi Fran, chorizo from the Mexican market is the best, but our supermarket's is actually pretty good -- we're lucky! :-) Thanks or the comment.
There are never too many ways to make chili. I will add this to my list. It's so chilly around here we could eat chili every day. No joke!
Very cute/funny dialogue! :-D
This chili sounds terrific. For some reason, I've been craving chili since Thanksgiving. Never mind a light salad, I want this! :-) ~Valentina
This looks good. Wow.
Hi Abbe, at this time of the year we could eat chili every day too! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Valentina, chili is SO satisfying when the weather turns cooler. Or cold, in our case. :-) Thanks or the comment.
Hi Amalia, it's good. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I want some
Hi R, anyone would. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Spicy food is the best when it's cold! Love those jalapenos on top, and sweet potato in chili sounds so good.
Hi Nas, it's wonderful! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Lisa, sweet potato is terrific in chili! We're having some leftovers that we froze for dinner tonight. :-) Thanks for the comment.
What a scrumptious and flavorful chili! I love the flavor combinations here and the addition of sweet potato!
Hi Amy, we had this again for dinner last night -- love the sweet potatoes in it! :-) Thanks for the comment.
John, this chili looks awesome and so full of amazing flavor! South of the border foods are perfect for keeping warm and cozy during the chilly months. That's an interesting note about Old world vs. New world chorizo. Great read!
Hi Kelly, we really like Spanish chorizo, but it's just wrong for this dish. Mexican-stye is perfect! :-) Thanks for the comment.
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