Slow Cooker Spicy Mango Chicken Chili
Every winter, my younger son’s school hosts a chili cook-off. There is a long-standing rivalry between the science and English departments along with many other worthy entries. The chili is ladled into small cups so that hungry guests may sample many entries. The event is as delicious as it is fun–a great time to visit with friends, parents, and teachers while eating well and casting votes for the best bowl of chili.
The chili that unexpectedly piqued my interest a few years back had mango in the ingredient list. Admittedly, I didn’t think I would like it. I wasn’t sure I wanted fruit in my chili! Ultimately, this chili won my vote with its sweet and spicy kick, and I immediately knew I wanted to create a recipe around these amazing flavors.
The use of mango salsa provides a hint of sweetness that is not at all overpowering, and it eliminates the need to seek out a perfectly ripe mango, which can be elusive. Cheese is the perfect match to a spicy pepper, mitigating some of the heat. I don’t have a high threshold for spiciness and, to me, this recipe is spicy in a comfortable sort of way. Similarly, my husband and kids also enjoy the level of heat. The slow cooker preparation is incredibly easy, and the list of ingredients is colorful and healthy.
One of those wholesome ingredients happens to be sweet potato. The first time I prepared this recipe, I marveled at how my younger son, who does not like sweet potatoes, gobbled up every last bite. When I commented on his clean bowl, he mentioned all those yummy mango pieces. I explained to him that the mango pieces in the salsa were quite small; the bigger orange chunks he was referring to were sweet potatoes. He looked shocked and said, “Well, I guess I like sweet potatoes now!” We all laughed. He doesn’t like black beans either. I didn’t say anything. Maybe he thought they were raisins.
For the Honey Sweetened Corn Muffin recipe in the photo above, click here.
The spicy-sweet combination in this chili makes it uniquely delicious. If you aren’t a big fan of spicy foods or are starting with a hot salsa, you may certainly forego the chili pepper; I have made this recipe with and without it. Once the seeds and veins are removed from the habanero, however, the heat is greatly reduced and the fruity undertones pair beautifully with the mango.
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (may substitute boneless, skinless chicken thighs)
- 1 pound sweet potato, chopped (about two medium or one very large potato; I keep skin on)
- 1 15.5-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 15.5-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 12-ounce bottle of beer (may substitute low-sodium chicken broth)
- 1 habanero chili pepper, seeds and veins removed and minced (may omit or substitute a jalapeño pepper; see notes)
- 1 small to medium onion, chopped (red or yellow)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 16-ounce jar mango salsa (see notes)
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 slightly-rounded cup frozen corn (may substitute canned or fresh when in season)
- 1 cup shredded Mexican blend or cheddar Jack cheese (for extra heat, try Pepper Jack; for something more basic, cheddar or mozzarella may be used)
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- Optional garnishes: additional cheese; cilantro; lime wedges; chopped avocado or guacamole; sour cream or Greek yogurt
- Place all the ingredients except the corn and the cheese in the slow cooker.
- Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours.
- Remove the chicken to a plate. With two forks, shred the chicken into bite-size pieces and return to the slow cooker. At the same time, add the corn, cheese, and salt.
- Cook for 10 minutes more or until the corn is heated and the cheese is melted.
- Ladle into warm bowls and garnish, as desired.
Mango salsa is available at most larger grocery stores. I typically use Mrs. Renfro’s brand. My friend who inspired this recipe raves about a peach mango salsa by Desert Pepper Trading Company. Both are medium hot.
Habanero peppers are known to be HOT but this heat can be greatly mitigated by removing the seeds and veins. (Wear gloves in case you accidentally touch your eyes after handling them.) Once the seeds and veins are removed, this pepper has a fruitiness whose flavor is welcoming to other fruits such as strawberries, kiwi, and mango. As noted, feel free to substitute with a milder pepper or omit.