I’m a self-confessed chocoholic, so I was delighted to learn that Mexicans sometimes use chocolate in their savory dishes- how good is that? Chocolate was a sacred drink of the Mayan Indians in Mexico, who harvested it from the seeds of the cacao tree. It then made its way into dishes such as Mole Poblano, which blends chocolate with various chiles and spices and is served at special occasions.
Since I’m now based in San Diego, California, I’ve had to shift my cooking away from my familiar French techniques (think butter and cream), to more Mexican-influenced cooking, with its chiles and strong flavors.
So, my next offering is Smoky Chipotle Chicken with Chorizo – perfect to serve to your guests over to watch a week-end football game on TV or as an alternative to eating the hum-drum Big Mac. Chipotles are jalapeño peppers that have been smoked and they will add a nice smoky ‘punch’ to your dishes.
Chipotle Chiles- they’re smokin’ hot
This dish also combines shredded chicken with chorizo sausage and fire-roasted red bell peppers to provide further depth to the flavors. But how to satisfy my chocoholic yearnings? Well, I decided to add a little unsweetened dark chocolate to the dish, providing a little chocolaty ‘undercurrent’ to the flavors, without being overbearing- NICE!
- For the chipotle peppers, use canned Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce. Adobo sauce is a spicy, dark red Mexican sauce made from ground chiles, herbs, garlic, tomatoes and vinegar. You can find this product in many U.S. supermarkets or Mexican specialty stores in other countries. If not, you can substitute either chipotle chili powder or Mexican chili powder.
Warning- do not use more than two chiles in your recipe or you may be reaching for the nearest fire extinguisher!
- For the chorizo, use Mexican chorizo. This is ground pork or beef seasoned with chile and garlic and stuffed into casings. After removing the casings, the meat resembles soft, minced meat and must be cooked prior to eating. Spanish chorizo has milder flavorings and usually has a harder outer casing.
- Fire Roasted Red Bell Peppers- these are bell peppers that have been roasted in the oven or on top of a gas burner. I used ready-roasted peppers purchased in a jar, but you could roast your own.
- 4 - 5 chicken thighs with bones
- ½ onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 can (14 oz or 455 g) chopped tomatoes
- ¾ cup fire roasted red peppers (in jar)
- 2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chopped
- ½ lb (250 g) Mexican chorizo (pork or beef)
- 1 cup (250 ml) chicken stock
- 2 squares (2 ounces) unsweetened dark chocolate
- salt to taste
- To garnish:
- avocado pieces
- coriander (cilantro)
- Pre-heat oven to 180 C (350 F)
- In large pot or Dutch oven, add 2 tbsp. oil and brown the chicken thighs over medium high heat, about 3 minutes each side. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Drain off excess oil/fat from the pan and retain a small amount to cook the garlic and onions.
- Add the diced garlic and onions to the pan and cook for several minutes until translucent in color. Now add about ½ cup water to the pan and scrape the brown 'cooked bits' from the bottom of the pan. This is called de-glazing and these pan scrapings will add flavour to your dish. Add the chicken pieces back to the pan.
- Now add the can of tomatoes, fire-roasted red peppers, chopped chipotle chiles and chicken stock to the pan.
- Remove the casings from the Mexican chorizo and break the meat up into small pieces. In a separate fry pan, cook the chorizo about 4 minutes, then add this to the other ingredients in the pan.
- Chop the chocolate into small pieces and add to the other ingredients, along with salt to taste.
- Cook in the oven for at least one hour until the chicken meat falls off the bone.
- Remove thigh bones prior to serving. Serve in a bowl over rice and add avocado pieces and coriander for garnish.