Make Ahead

Holy Mole Chicken Chili

January 29, 2012
Author Notes

So, this is not quite a traditional chili. It may even be a blasphemous chili. I'm never quite sure what the rules of chili are - I'm Norwegian, you can't really expect me to - I just know that I like it. Anyway, this chili came about because of a dinner at my in-laws right before Christmas. We had an amazing spectrum of dietary issues present: gluten free and no red meat, gluten free and no dairy, gluten free and vegetarian, no shellfish, no nuts... So, our host had decided on blackbean and butternut squash chili. Except, oops, I can't eat beans, sorry. So, she quickly changed to chicken chili with no beans. But that violated the need for a vegetarian option. In the end, we wound up with two separate pots of chili, one just chicken, and one blackbean and butternut squash. Now, I should have simply been happy to have something to eat, and I'm certainly not complaining, but I was a little bit sad I didn't get to have any squash in my chili. So, I fished some squash out of the bean chili, washed it off and added it to mine. The combination was delicious, and I vowed that the next time I made chili, it would be a chicken and butternut squash chili, so here it is. There's a decent amount of unsweetened chocolate in here, which gives it a mole-like richness. It's not super spicy because I was serving it to some other Norwegians (read: sensitive palates) but you can adjust the spice to your taste. —fiveandspice

  • Serves about 6
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large bell pepper (any color that floats your boat), finely chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 canned chipotle pepper (in adobo sauce), chopped, plus more to increase spiciness to taste
  • 2 tablespoons adobo sauce (from the canned chipotles)
  • 28 ounces can diced tomatoes, with their juices
  • 8 ounces malty beer (drink the rest as you cook)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 3-inch long pieces of orange peel, peeled off with a vegetable peeler (so, no pith on them)
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 ounce finely chopped unsweetened chocolate, plus more to taste
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2-3 limes
  • chopped cilantro, for serving
  • fried corn tortilla strips (or corn chips) for serving
In This Recipe
  1. In a rather large pot, heat 2 Tbs. olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Stir in the onion and cook for 3 minutes. Add the garlic, bell pepper, poblano pepper, and jalapeno pepper, and cook, stirring, until softened, another 5 minutes. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, and oregano and cook for about 1 minute to toast the spices.
  2. Add the butternut squash and stir to coat it with the spices. Stir in the chipotle, adobo, canned tomato, beer, cinnamon stick and orange peel. Add a couple tsp. of salt. Stir and cover. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook, covered, until the butternut squash is tender, mine took around 30 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, heat the remaining olive oil in a large frying pan set over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken pieces in batches and set aside.
  4. When the squash is tender, stir in the chicken and simmer just long enough to cook the chicken through, several minutes. Stir in the unsweetened chocolate plus more salt and pepper to taste. You can fish the cinnamon stick and orange peel out if you want, or just leave them for people to discover in their bowl as a fun surprise.
  5. Blend together the avocado with the sour cream, a pinch of salt, and the juice of half a lime (you can just mash it well with a fork if you don't want to bother with a blender/food processor). Cut the remaining limes and lime half into wedges. Serve the chili warm with the avocado cream to dollop on top (plus additional sour cream, if you'd like), lime wedges for squeezing over, and cilantro and tortilla strips for sprinkling. This is definitely a one pot meal - who needs to even bother with a salad?
Contest Entries

See Reviews

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Lisa Braverman Yarbrough
    Lisa Braverman Yarbrough
  • JasMWood
  • hardlikearmour
  • LeBec Fin
    LeBec Fin
  • Fairmount_market
I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (, where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.