This hearty, sweet and smoky chipotle pineapple chili has a bit of a kick to it and has 2 secret ingredients that gives it a full-bodied more rounded and nuttier flavour. Can you guess what it is?
I was recently invited to a chili competition, that I sadly could not attend so this recipe is dedicated to my friend Michael as this was the chili I was going to enter the competition with! 🙂
I have made many chilis in the past and it was always missing something and I never really was satisfied with it. It was either:
- Too tomatoey. Tasted literally like tomato sauce.
- Too beany! Every bite was flavours of beans and not enough anything else.
- Too spicy. I mean I love spiciness don’t get me wrong! But I have made chilis in the past that tasted just spicy and nothing else.
- Not sweet enough. This should be easy enough to fix right? Just add a sweetener! Nope, because that just made it desserty. It was missing all the other flavours to make the sweetness enhance rather than overpower.
- Watery and flavourless – gross.
After many attempts and many failed chilis over the years and much tweaking, I can finally say I have a chili that I truly love and I want to share it with everyone!
With chili, everyone has a preference. Some like it sweet, some like it meaty, some like it spicy – you get the idea.
So what does this chili taste like?
- Spicy & Smoky – The chipotle in adobo sauce gives this a very nice smoky flavour but also makes it very spicy as well. If you’re not a fan of spiciness, use half the amount in the recipe to maintain a bit if the spiciness and smokiness.
- Slightly Sweet – I prefer my chili slightly sweetened. The pineapple lends its sweetness at just the right amount. If you prefer it even sweeter, you can add 1-2 tablespoons of maple syrup to it at the end after you have adjusted all the flavours (which is what I did).
- Hearty & not soupy – The balance of meat the beans approximately 1:1. The chili has a medium thick texture – no more runny, soupy chili!
You can find most of these ingredients in your local grocery store, however the gochujang paste would most likely be found at a Asian grocery store.
I used pork because pineapple and pork are a classically great combination but you can use any type of meat or protein (beef, chicken, sausage, tofu etc) for this chili and it will keep it just as flavourful.
I used a fresh pineapple for this recipe but you can use canned pineapples if you want to keep it simple. I personally like to control how big I cut the pineapple chunks which is why I went for the fresh one. I like the pineapples in 1cm cubes so that they don’t all melt away during the cooking process. Each bite has tiny burst of the sweet pineapple that pairs wonderfully with the smokiness from the chipotle.
To create the smokiness for this chili, I used a can of chipotle in adobo sauce. This gave it a lot of heat as well, so if you are not a fan of heat, I would suggest either putting only half a can or pairing up the chili with a side of sour cream (which by the way is the best thing you can do for chili, seriously. If there is only 1 topping you should not skip it should be the sour cream.
I know what you’re thinking. “Wait, what? It’s not the cheese??”
Nope, it’s the sour cream. It gives the chili a full-bodied creaminess with a very slight tang.
I used canned crushed tomatoes for simplicity but you can use fresh tomatoes or fire roasted tomatoes and it would be equally as delicious.
Personally, I am not a huge fan of beans in my chili but Terry is! So there’s a bit of compromise here. I used navy beans because they are smaller and less intrusive (intrusive, like every bite feels like I’m eating spoonful of beans) however, if you enjoy beans feel free to substitute it with any kinds you like! The most common one would be kidney beans.
To keep it simple, I used canned beans for this recipe. You can use dried beans if you prefer, but I highly recommend soaking them the night before in water before using them.
…and here it is! My secret ingredients for a full flavoured well rounded nutty chili!
- Cocoa Powder : This gives the chili a nice deep nutty flavour, especially after you caramelized and browned it with the meat.
- Gochujang Paste : The paste gives the chili a slightly sweet and spicy flavour with a very nice touch of earthy nuttiness. Trust me on this. You won’t even notice this is in the chili but it definitely gives it that flavour you can’t quite put your finger on. 🙂
THROWING IT TOGETHER
The first thing we should do is chop up all the ingredients that need chopping. This would be: the onions, garlic, peppers, chipotle, pineapple, and tomatoes if you are using fresh tomatoes.
Tip #1: Don’t throw away the adobo sauce once you chopped up the chipotle peppers. Add it in the slow cooker! This is where you will get a lot of the smokiness from.
I used a slow cooker for this recipe, it makes it a whole lot easier and you don’t need to watch it! If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can use a pot on the stove on low heat but you will need to stir it more often to make sure it doesn’t burn on the bottom.
Add the tomatoes, pineapple, chipotle and beans into the slow cooker and set it on low.
This next step is CRUCIAL and should not be skipped. I am all about keeping things simple and quick except when it compromises flavours (and sometimes texture). So please please please do not skip this step of toasting and browning the spices and meat.
In a frying pan or cast iron skillet, add in some oil and set it to medium-high heat.
When the oil is hot, add in the onions and peppers and cook it for a few minutes until it is slightly brown and soft.
Next add in the cumin, cocoa powder, garlic, tomato paste and gochujang paste then cook it for a few minutes. You want to toast and brown the spices and paste to bring out the flavours.
Next add in the pork and cook it until the pork has browned and is fully cooked. You will get burnt bits but that is okay – that is flavour! Once that is done, put that in the slow cooker.
Cook it for 3-4 hours on low.
Tip #2 : Do not add salt or sweeteners until after the 3 hour mark. In the beginning the chili has not ‘melded’ together it is hard to taste for sweet and salty. The pineapple has not been softened yet so the sweetness has not come out. Add your salts and sweeteners at the very end when the flavours are more polished. I like to use fish sauce for salt and umami and maple syrup as a sweetener.
TOPPINGS [Optional, but highly recommended and fun!]
One of the most fun (and delicious) ways to enhance the flavours and textures of chili is through toppings!
Here are a few ideas:
- Green onions
- Red onions (finely chopped or sliced and soaked in lime juice)
- Grated cheese
- Sour cream (this adds a very nice creaminess to the chili and the slight tang gives it a nice finish. If you can handle dairy I would highly recommend it)
- Sliced fresh or pickled jalapenos (if you like more heat)
- Tortilla chips (crushed on top or whole for scooping up the chili)
- Fresh avocado or guacamole
- Bacon bits
- Fresh limes – a quick splash of fresh lime juices gives it a nice tartness with a refreshing lime scent.
- Be creative! 🙂
Disclaimer: There are affliate links to make it easier to find the ingredients for this recipe. I would never recommend things that I don’t own myself or that I don’t highly recommend.
A sweet and smoky pineapple chipotle chili with 2 secret ingredients. Cocoa powder & Gochujang paste that gives it a full bodied more rounded and nuttier flavour!
- 1 pineapple (chopped)
- 1 can navy beans (540ml - approx. 2 cups)
- 1 can chopped tomatoes (796ml - approx. 3 1/2 cups)
- 1 can chipotle in adobo sauce (chopped) (186ml)
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1 can tomato paste (156ml - approx. 1/2 cup)
- 3 tbsp gochujang paste
- 3 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 large onion (chopped)
- 1 pepper (chopped)
- 1 1/2 tsp cumin
- 3-4 large cloves garlic (choppped)
- 2 tbsp fish sauce (adjust to taste)
- 2 tbsp maple syrup (adjust to taste)
- grated cheese
- sour cream
- green onions
- nacho chips
- red onions (chopped or lightly pickled in lime juice)
- jalapeno peppers (fresh or pickled)
Chop the onion, garlic, peppers and put aside for later
Add the tomatoes, beans, chopped pineapple and chipotle (and sauce) into slow cooker and set it on low. (or a heavy pot on the stove set to low)
In a frying pan or cast iron skillet, add some oil and set it on medium-high heat
When the oil is hot, add in the onions and peppers and cook until brown (approximately 5 minutes)
Add in the garlic, cumin, cocoa powder, tomato paste and gochujang paste and toast it for approximately 3 minutes. It should look goopy
Add in the meat and mix well with the onions and paste. Break up the meat into tiny bits and cook until it has browned. (approximately 5-8 minutes)
When the meat is done, put it into the slow cooker. Scrape off the bits on the bottom of the pan as well. This is where the flavour is.
Set the slow cooker to cook for 3 hours.
Refrain from adding the salt and sweetners (fish sauce, soy sauce or salt and maple syrup) until after it has cooked for 3 hours and the chili has had time to meld in flavours.
Prep the garnishes and enjoy on its own or with a side of nacho chips! 🙂
- 1 can of chiptole with adobo sauce is quite spicy. If you don't like heat, use half the can.
- Highly recommend serving with a side of sour cream
- Goes fantastic as a dip with nacho chips
- Add the salt and sweetners at the very end when the chili has finished cooking after all the flavours has melded.