Spiked Chorizo and Black Bean Chilli with Chipotle, Roasted Garlic and Plantain

Cooked low and slow, this spicy twist on classic bean and meat chilli — with a shot of bourbon for good measure — is guaranteed to satisfy even the heartiest of eaters on the coldest of days. A perfect stick-with-you meal that fills your home and your belly with delicious warmth.

The recipe I’m sharing today features sweet roasted garlic, zucchini and summer squash, plantain, smoky chipotles in adobo, banana peppers and, for depth, two types of tomatoes — fire-roasted and sun-dried. To suit your taste and availability, you can vary these with in-season winter squash, dark leafy greens and sprouts, or root veg like parsnips, rutabaga, sweet potato and beets. Dried oregano, nutmeg and cinnamon add to the complex layering of classic Mexican flavors, and a scattering of fresh cilantro leaves cool and refresh as the finishing touch.

We used lean pork ground at home and seasoned in the style of chorizo, but you can use meat from fresh chorizo sausages purchased from a butcher. To make it vegetarian, omit the chorizo and stick with the black beans (canned or home-cooked from dry), or pump up the protein with additional beans, cooked lentils, or pan-seared tempeh or tofu crumbles.

Chorizo black bean plantain chilli_HGN

This chilli may not be much to look at, but I promise it pleases the palate and the body, bursting with antioxidants and nourishing nutrients — regardless of which seasonal produce or proteins you choose to include.

The jumbo-sized cousins of bananas, plantains contain more vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium than their average counterpart. Plus, they’re a good source of fiber and B vitamins, including folate, an essential nutrient to build red blood cells, utilize dietary protein, and help prevent serious birth defects in babies. Like yellow summer squash, zucchini is a good source of manganese, lutein and zeaxanthin, and is richer in the antioxidant vitamin C, providing nearly 40% of your daily need.

Tomatoes are a rich source of the phytochemical lycopene that acts like a natural sunscreen, strengthens elasticity of skin tissues, aids in protection of the heart, and has been shown to potentially reduce risk of prostate cancer. Chipotle peppers, smoked jalapeños packed in a pungent, tangy adobo sauce, are high in vitamins A and C, and may help spike metabolism and stimulate digestion.

Sulfur from onion and garlic is required for synthesis of glutathione — a powerful antioxidant critical in controlling inflammation and helping your immune system fight infections, improve cardiovascular health and potentially prevent cancer. Compounds in dried oreganocinnamon and nutmeg have natural antioxidant and antibacterial properties, and we already learned that nutmeg may get the gents in the mood!

For only 37 calories and 0 grams of fat, 1 ounce of black beans provides an additional 10% each of your DV for fiber and folate, as well as 2.5 grams of protein. Together with the 7 grams of protein per 1 ounce of lean ground pork (64 calories, 2 grams fat), the two provide nearly 20% of your daily need for that nutrient. Black beans also contain high concentrations of anthocyanins — pigments that promote antioxidant activity and have beneficial effects on cardiovascular function and inflammation. (Read more about the general nutrition of beans.)

Chillies, stews and soups are a great way to pack in lots of veg, especially important in the colder (football) months. This one is a crowd-pleasing treat. Don’t let the long list of ingredients intimidate you — after a few hands-on steps upfront, it comes together on its own over a low flame. Plus it can be made in advance, keeps well and gets better as it sits.

So fire up the stove, heat a couple plantain tortillas if you like, keep warm and enjoy!

Cheers, Heather

Tell me… How do you like your chilli — favorite fillings and toppings?

Spiked Chorizo and Black Bean Chilli with Chipotle, Roasted Garlic and Plantain
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time
Reserve the can from your diced tomatoes -- pour the stock/water into the empty can and swirl around before adding it to the chilli to get all the extra flavor out. To limit salt intake, always look for canned beans and tomatoes labeled "reduced- or low-sodium" or "no salt added."
Recipe Type: Soup, stew, chilli, pork, beans, fruit, entree, gluten-free
Makes: Serves 4 to 6 generously
  • 2 full garlic heads, tops sliced off
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp good quality honey
  • 1 Tbsp chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (see HGN Notes)
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (drained and rinsed if packed in oil; no extra prep if dry)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, plus more for serving
  • 4 small or 2 large banana peppers (also known as Hungarian wax peppers)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 12 oz ground fresh chorizo (removed from casings if purchased in links), or ground pork with chorizo seasonings (see HGN Notes)
  • 1 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise, seeded and chunked
  • 1 small summer (yellow) squash, quartered lengthwise, seeded and chunked
  • 1/2 white, yellow or red onion, chopped -- to yield ~1/2 to 2/3 cup
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp Bourbon or whiskey
  • 1, 14-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained (or home-cooked from dry, see HGN Notes)
  • 1, 14-oz can diced fire-roasted tomatoes with the juice (or regular diced canned tomatoes)
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock, or water (I used homemade pork stock)
  • 2 small or 1 large green-yellow plantains with black spots, peeled and chunked
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Arrange topped garlic heads on a piece of foil, and drizzle with evoo, honey and a tiny bit of salt. Wrap the edges of the foil up and around to make a little, well-sealed pouch, and roast until tender, about 45 minutes. Let cool, then squeeze the garlic paste from the skins into the bowl of a food processor. Add chipotle with adobo sauce, sun-dried tomatoes and cilantro, and process, adding a bit of water as needed to create a smooth paste. Taste, adjust seasoning with more chipotle, honey, and/or salt, if needed. Set aside. (This step can be done a day or two ahead, or while the chilli cooks as it's not needed until the very end.)
  2. Roast whole banana peppers over a gas flame or under the broiler, turning with tongs until the skin is charred. Transfer to a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside 5 to 10 minutes. When cool, peel, seed and coarsely chop. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the 1 tsp oil in a Dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-high. Add chorizo and cook until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate, and drain all but 1/2 Tbsp oil from the pot. Place back on the heat and add the zucchini and summer squash, cooking until lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the onions and cook until softened, 2 to 3 minutes, then add the chopped roasted peppers to cook 2 to 3 minutes more.
  4. Stir in the dried herbs and spices. When fragrant, about 1 minute, increase heat slightly. Deglaze the bottom of the pot with the Bourbon or whiskey, then immediately add the beans, tomatoes, stock/water, plantains and cooked chorizo. Decrease heat to low to simmer the chilli for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, slightly covered, adding water if needed.
  5. Stir in the garlic-chipotle paste, taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Ladle into bowls and serve with fresh cilantro leaves, plus chipotle flakes and plantain or corn tortillas, if desired.
HGN Notes
Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce can be found in small cans at Latin markets or in the "international foods" sections of most grocery stores. Because you only need a small amount, spoon the remainder into a couple snack-sized freezer bags and press flat. This way you can easily break off small pieces whenever needed.

We did not have fresh chorizo, but did have ground pork shoulder that we seasoned with a homemade blend of chorizo spices in the freezer. We used this recipe from Honest Cooking: http://honestcooking.com/authentic-homemade-mexican-chorizo/.

To cook your own beans from their dried state, check out my go-to method here: http://www.heathergnutrition.com/2016/09/29/kitchen-diy-cooking-dried-beans/.

+ Vegetarians can replace the chorizo with pan-roasted tempeh or tofu, cooked mung beans or dal, or edamame. Extra black beans or another variety of bean works as well to bump up the protein. Alternatively, simply omit the chorizo and stick with the black beans.
+ Vary the veg to suit your taste and availability. Try in-season winter squash, dark leafy greens and sprouts, or root veg like parsnips, rutabaga, sweet potato and beets.
+ Omit the bourbon/whiskey as needed.

Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray.

+ + + +

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