The weekend before Superbowl Sunday, our local Whole Foods store hosts a chili contest among its employees. Ten departments each prepare chili and the customers are treated to tasting portions, voting for their favorite. Not only do you get lunch but also the recipes. This year, the choice was easy: the “shellfish and chorizo chili” from the Seafood Department was really good. I tinkered with the recipe, but the gist is there. I used tomatoes that I’d canned and beans from my freezer but list the store-bought quantities, which are just fine. I pumped up the seasonings. I also used less chorizo and added it later than the chef did (he sautéed it at the start), and cut the amount of shellfish, using pre-cooked mussels since I couldn’t get good ones in the shells.
This makes 2 ½ quarts, or enough for 6 generous servings. If I were serving this for a party, I would make the base the day before and reheat it, adding the seafood and garnish right before serving. As it was, we ate it for supper a couple of days later and, typical of chili, it had improved in both flavor and texture.
1large yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pinch saffron threads, dissolved in a little hot water (optional, not the chef’s way, but I liked it)
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
1 ½ tsp sweet paprika
¼ tsp cayenne (more or less, adjust based on chorizo)
3-4 oz chorizo, cut in small dice
1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes, buzzed in food processor or crushed by hand
1 14.5 oz can small white beans, drained and rinsed (or 1.5 cup pre-cooked)
1 14.5 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed (or 1.5 cup pre-cooked)
Juice of 1 lemon
¾ lb shrimp, shelled and cleaned, or equivalent rock shrimp
½ lb bay scallops (or use larger ones cut into pieces)
½ lb cooked, shelled mussels or 1.5 lb in shell, cleaned and de-bearded
Chopped green onion, both white and green sections
Salt and pepper to taste
Sauté the onion in olive oil over low heat until translucent, add the garlic, stirring until you catch its aroma, and mix in the peppers. Cook, covered, over low heat for about 10 minutes. Add the saffron, cumin, paprika, cayenne (go easy) and chorizo, and cook slowly, covered for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and beans and cook for another 15 minutes, covered.
Separately cook the shrimp and scallops in a small amount of olive oil and a dab of butter over low heat, leaving them slightly undercooked. I added chopped garlic to the shrimp. Cut both into ½-inch pieces and set aside. Add the lemon juice, scallops, shrimp and mussels to the chili base and heat through over low heat for about 5-8 minutes, making sure that the mussel shells all open if you are using them that way. Season to taste (mine needed no extra salt or pepper). Garnish with parsley and chopped green onion.