Pulled Chicken with Chipotle Chili, Cinnamon, and Chocolate

The original inspiration for this dish was the colder weather that is settling in on The Netherlands. A hearty and warming bowl of chili is what Mama Nature has prescribed. Scrolling through Instagram, I came upon a post from Smitten Kitchen, and a recipe for chicken chili, which tickled my tastebuds. After the initial read-through, I saw theirs as one I could build upon. What I have for you, is Pulled Chicken with Black Beans, Chipotle Chile, Cinnamon, and Chocolate. What I really liked about the original recipe is that there was a short list of ingredients. I was chatting with my sister about this, and fully agree with her thoughts – that when you have a simple chili, equally important to the main bowl, is the selection of great toppings you can add.

I have to say, I was nervous about using dry (and unsoaked) beans in this recipe. I don’t have an Instapot® or slow cooker – I rely on my trusty Le Creuset to look after my pots of chili. In the end, contrary to Smitten’s projection of a 2-1/2 to 3 hour cooking time from start to finish on the stovetop, my batch took seven hours. Yes, you read that correctly – 7 hours for the beans to reach an acceptable level of ready-to-eat, soft-enough texture. I will use dry beans again in this recipe, but I will definitely give them at least a 6 hour pre-soak as I have done in previous recipes. Alternatively, I will cook all ingredients except for the beans, and add canned black beans at the end. If you have an Instapot or slow cooker, your results with dry beans, may be different than mine.

In my recipe, I decided to increase the amounts of onion, garlic, oregano, cumin, and tomatoes. As well, I wanted more layers of flavour, and added chipotle chili paste that I had on hand, along with chocolate and cocoa powder, to give this a hint of Mexican mole.

On to the recipe – and when you are ready to serve this up, be sure to set yourself up with a good smattering of toppings! I used coriander, lime, green onion, homemade quacamole, aged goat cheese, and sheep’s milk yogurt. Not seen in my photo are the dabs of sriracha I added to my bowl, at the table! Play around with this recipe to make it to your taste. Omit the chocolate if it’s not your thing; add more spice, if that is!


  • 1 kg (=5-6 pieces) organic chicken breasts, each cut into 3-4 chunks
  • 1 tbsp light olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp cumin powder
  • 2 Tbsp oregano
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder
  • 1-2 Tbsp chili powder (amount depends on your heat tolerance
  • 2 tsp sea salt, + more to taste, later
  • 2 Tbsp chipotle chili paste (to your taste)
  • 3 x 400 gram cans of crushed tomatoes
  • 100 grams of 72% chocolate, broken into chunks
  • 500 grams dried black beans, pre-soaked for 6 hours
  • 7 cups water
  • Additional toppings when serving: coriander, green onion, guacamole, lime, grated cheese, yogurt, fresh chilis, sriracha sauce…..


  1. Start by heating the oil in a heavy bottomed, cast iron pot, add the diced onions and stir these around to soften, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic, and stir for another minute. Now add the dry spices and cacao powder, and incorporate all. Finally, add the rest of the ingredients, and give this all a good stir.
  2. Bring to the boil, turn it down to the lowest heat, and allow to gently simmer, lid on, for the next three hours. Every 20-30 minutes, check in and give it a stir.
  3. After two hours, scoop out the chunks of chicken and break these apart with a fork. Place the pulled chicken back into the pot, and allow the chili to continue to cook away.
  4. When the beans have softened, your chili is ready to serve. Ladle into bowls and generously add toppings to your taste! Make sure you have plenty of lime on hand as this sour citrus is one of the best complements to a spicy and tomatoey chili!

I hope this recipe finds its way onto your stovetop and into your belly. I’ve had the pleasure of serving it up to a few friends over the past couple of days and the reviews have been fabulous! From my kitchen to yours, enjoy 🙂

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