Recipe: Sweet Sriracha Chicken Chili (aka Sucker Punch)

Sriracha Hot Sauce

I’m finally going to record this award-winning chili recipe, though mostly because I tend to forget how to make it between the infrequent (and informal) contests I participate in. Besides, I doubt anybody would ever compete with me with my own recipe, since the level of effort is so high. And if they did, I’d switch tactics. Again.

You see, I always attempt to cheat at cooking competitions. I know I’m very unlikely to win by improving on a classic. It’s a classic because it’s been proven over time. So instead, I always try for something completely different—typically as far as I think I can go within the rules (official or perceived). As an example, this recipe is very Asian inspired, with the small amount of beans used mostly to pretend that it’s some kind of chili. That being said, my goal was to stimulate (or over-stimulate) all of the taste sensations: sweet, acid (sour), salty, bitter, heat (spicy), and especially, umami (savory). From most of the comments I’ve received, I think I’ve succeeded.

My son Lliam refers to this recipe as Sucker Punch because of the heat. It’s actually a pretty hot chili, but because of the sweetness and acid, you don’t notice it for a while. But by the time you do, wham!, you’re in a full sweat, and it hurts to continue on to finish the bowl. Be warned.


  • 3 pounds ground chicken (I like to grind mine course from boneless, skinless thighs)
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/4-1/2 cup sriracha sauce
  • 2 large, fresh limes
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon plus 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 whole, fresh serrano chili peppers, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 each large yellow onion, large white onion, large red onion—peeled, trimmed, and sliced across the grain into 3 thick slices
  • 1 large, fresh red bell pepper
  • 1 large, fresh green bell pepper
  • 2 large, fresh Anaheim chili peppers
  • 1 large, fresh Pasilla chili pepper
  • 4 ears sweet corn, fresh or frozen
  • 2 tablespoons lard
  • 6-8 ounces uncooked bacon, coarsely chopped
  • 2 10-ounce cans Ro*Tel Original tomatoes and green chilies
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups chicken broth (homemade stock is awesome, from bouillon is fine)
  • 2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
  • 1 bunch green onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, stems removed and chopped


  1. Combine ground chicken, juice from 1 lime, vinegar, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, salt, pepper, oregano, serrano, chopped onion, garlic, and olive oil, and mix well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Grill corn, onion slices, and remaining peppers on gas grill on high, until uniformly charred (peppers should be mostly black, corn and onions, not as much).
  3. Place grilled peppers in plastic bag, and allow to cool to room temperature. Slip off charred skins and discard. Also remove and discard stems, seeds, and membranes.
  4. Cut corn kernels from cobs. Chop onions and peppers to medium size (1/4 inch to 1/2 inch cube).
  5. Melt lard in large, heavy pot. Fry bacon in lard over medium heat until crispy. Remove cooked bacon with slotted spoon to a separate bowl, leaving fat in pot.
  6. Cook marinated chicken mixture in lard and bacon fat over medium-high heat until cooked through and browned.
  7. Add chopped vegetables, Ro*Tel tomatoes and green chilies, black beans, and broth to cooked chicken in pot, and mix thoroughly. Bring to simmer.
  8. Add juice from remaining lime, additional 1/4 cup brown sugar, additional 1/4-1/2 cup sriracha sauce, fish sauce, and additional salt. Stir to combine. Test and adjust seasoning.
  9. Simmer on low for 20-30 minutes—long enough to meld the flavors, but not enough to completely soften the vegetables.
  10. Remove from heat and stir in fresh green onions and cilantro.
  11. Serve immediately.