Healthy chili con pollo

How to make a healthy chili with chicken – Chili con pollo with kale

My fresh take on a tex-mex classic: Chili con carne but then made with chicken and beer! The chicken makes the dish lighter than the conventional beef and a malty caramel flavored beer gives it a lot of richness and depth. Adding kale sounds like a ‘hipster’ / ‘superfood-trend’ thing to do, but it provides a bit more body to the dish and kale itself has a kind of smokiness in its taste that goes really well with the chicken. Prepare it a day in advance for all the flavours to develop and infuse.

Try this hearty and healthy chicken dish that comesย with a personal story

It’s been a long way since the first chili I made for my friends up until the point where I am at now – about 12 years of cooking and countless hours in the kitchen. While it was so long ago, I can still remember so much of that evening all rather vividly.

It was really harsh winter in Germany with knee-high snow the first time I cooked food for friends. We wanted something warming and filling for a night of drinking. Two of my friends fought their way to the supermarket and had to push 3 cars out of snow banks during their trip. In the meantime, I was prepping stuff in the kitchen at a friendโ€™s place, waiting for them to come back. The first chili I made was a recipe I got from the brother of a friend who was known for his chili. Maybe this is something that I wanted as well – being known for my food. However, the first chili I made resembled a brown muddy substance, which my German friends sarcastically called “Knastpudding” (prison pudding). It’s only function was basically to act as a base for an evening of booze. The evening wasn’t about delicious food, it was about having fun with friends, spending time, making memories. Still, it was the first time I consciously realized how food brings people together and that I took all the family gatherings somehow for granted. If food was a way to enjoy time with my friends even more I was more than willing to make that effort.

In the last 12 years I’ve made countless chilies, but that first evening and all the feelings attached somehow stuck and never went away. I learned so much more about spices and layering flavours, but at heart cooking remains my way to show love and make people happy. This recipe is very special to me as it represents my progress and dedication throughout the years. If you find something you love: stick with it!

IJK Healthy chili con pollo
Hearty and filling stew made with shredded chicken thigh, kale, beans, corn, and brown malty beer. Easy to prepare the day before
  • 1 big onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 dash cumin
  • 400g chick thighs, without the bone and skin
  • One 330ml bottle of beer, try a darker malty one (I often use Leffe Bruin, a caramel colored beer from Belgium)
  • 1 can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can sweet corn, drained
  • A big splash of chipotle chili sauce, sriracha or any other hot sauce you like (otherwise use a chopped red pepper instead)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 big handful chopped kale
Leffe Bruin – the beer I often use for this dish
Basically you just need to put everything in a pot

In a big pot, fry the onion and the garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the cumin and fry along for a minute.

Add the chicken thighs, the beer, canned tomatoes, both types of beans, the corn and hot sauce. Season with sugar, some salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Fetch the chicken thighs out and shred them with two forks into thin strips on a plate.

Add shredded chicken back into the pot, add the kale and simmer for another 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.


Divide among plates, or even better, let it infuse over night!

Do you have a similar food story to share that really has moved and motivated you? Or do you think that kale should never end up in a chili to begin with? Let me know in the comments below!

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One Comment

  1. Fiya Fong
    January 11, 2016

    Hey Johnny. It’s cool to get a glimpse of the man behind the blog. You’re right! Food does bring people together, sometimes in the weirdest ways. I’m glad I got to meet you and hopefully we will both make it in this incredibly saturated food-porn filled passion project of ours.

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