Chipotle has a new menu item for the first time in years -- here's the verdict

Chipotle has had a rough year.

The E. coli crisis rocked consumers’ confidence in the chain, with same-store sales plummeting and the company’s stock losing 27% of its value in six months.

Chipotle has only changed its main menu once, in 2014, adding tofu sofritas.

But the chain has unveiled a new weapon to battle the stagnant menu blues: chorizo.

It will be available nationwide by the fall, but rollouts in select metro areas has already begun. We managed to get our hands on the new chorizo to see if this spicy sausage can attract some business to the embattled chain.

Chipotle's menu has been static for some time -- and I, like many, think the time is ripe for a change.

Hollis Johnson

Enter: chorizo. Chipotle' version is a combination of ground chicken and pork, seasoned accordingly -- or so one is led to believe.

Hollis Johnson

Chorizo traditionally comes in two varieties. The Spanish and Portuguese kind is a smoked, cured, fatty pork sausage flavored by distinctly red, smoky paprika. The kind Americans are generally more familiar with is the Mexican variety, which is finely ground pork -- although sometimes beef, chicken, or other meat can be used -- seasoned with whatever spices are available, typically garlic, cumin, paprika, and chillis.

This does not seem to be the chorizo we know and love. While traditional chorizo, be it European or Mexican, is supposed to be fatty and bold. This is neither. The chunks -- it's neither ground nor a true sausage link -- are dense and dry.

Hollis Johnson

The flavours are disappointing. No paprika is detectable, and the cumin is but a whisper beneath the cacophony of salt. There is little heat to speak of, apart from a simply peppery aftertaste. It's a chicken and pork mixture, yet it isn't ground or minced. What are the chunks? Are they chicken, or pork? They look the same, so can they possibly even be both?

Hollis Johnson

But, to be fair, one has to try it in its proposed environment: the burrito.

Hollis Johnson

But perhaps unsurprisingly, it fails to improve much when thrown in the gastronomical gestalt. Its dense chewiness is amplified when surrounded by the lush flavours and bright tones of guacamole, rice, beans, corn, and sour cream. Like the ever-absent Godot, what little spice the chorizo had simply fails to show up.

Hollis Johnson

Of course, this isn't to say some won't enjoy this brand spanking new addition to Chipotle's menu. It's a rather bland protein, but it will do the job for many. But if you're looking for the real deal, skip Chipotle and find yourself a Mexican food truck.

Hollis Johnson

Will this stave off consumer boredom with the menu? Frankly, it likely will. But I doubt the novelty will last long, given how disappointing it is. This is no silver bullet -- nor is it real chorizo.

Hollis Johnson

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