When Choclette announced that this month's special ingredient for We Should Cocoa is Chilli, I don't think she quite meant for me to take it so literally :-)
But what can I say? The Mexicans love chocolate in their chili and so do we. I know the combination of chocolate in the savoury chili can seem a bit unusual, but its utterly delicious, and actually fairly common too. I first saw the idea for a chunky chili with dark chocolate in an old issue of Delicious Magazine. It was a while ago though, and for the life of me, I cannot recall whose recipe it was. I made a vegetarian version of it a few times, and its always gone down really well, particularly with Aditi. Normally I just use dark chocolate for this recipe, but this time I decided to be a little different. I used this gorgeous Lindt dark chocolate with chilli, which is absolutely divine by itself, but adds a further layer of delicious darkness to this chili.
Thinking back on it though, I wonder why on earth I've never blogged it. I mean, I do have a chili recipe on here, but its the easier version that we use for camping. Not that this one is any less easy, I mean. Our whole family loves chili, and I like the fact that its a simple, one pot meal, but at the same time with a really deep, intense flavour. The original recipe from the magazine, if I remember correctly, used chunks of chorizo, instead of ground beef to make the chili, but I substitute with vegetables to make a vegetarian version. Normally I use quorn mince or vegetarian mince to make chili, and no one can tell the difference, but in this version I only use vegetables and beans. So not only is it delicious, but also quite healthy as well.
I usually serve the chili on rice or with a chunk of baguette or French bread. A few days ago I decided that I should learn how to make my own French bread. Not sure the French would like it as much, but we sure did. It had a nice crisp crust, and was all soft and mellow inside. Yes, I was a barbarian and I used my bread machine to make the dough, but let's face it, whatever saves a few minutes is a boon to me. And I did shape the loaves by hand, and baked them in the oven.
If you want to use meat in this recipe, use chunks of beef or chorizo, and saute first for a few minutes until the meat is sealed. The rest of the recipe is the same as for the vegetarian version. You can use any vegetables for this recipe, and I used the ones I had on hand while making it. This recipe is more of a guide than a definitive one, so feel free to go with whatever you like best. I do use the best quality dark chocolate I can find though, so don't skimp on that part.
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, chopped into chunks, and blanched in boiling water for 3 minutes
2 - 3 red peppers, chopped into chunks
About 200g mushrooms, white or brown, chopped
About 200g butternut squash, peeled, scraped and cubed
1 cups (250 ml) tomato sauce
1 tbsp tomato paste
400 ml tin of red kidney beans
2 tbsp oil
40 g dark chocolate, chopped coarsely (I used Lindt Dark Chocolate with Chilli)
½ tbsp ground cumin
½ - 1 tsp hot chilli powder (to taste)
1 tsp salt (to taste)
½ tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp celery salt (optional)
1 tbsp paprika (optional)
Heat the oil in a deep pan, and add the onion. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until softened, then add the spice mix, including salt.
Fry for 2 minutes, then add the chopped carrots, peppers, mushrooms and squash. Stir together to coat with all the spices for about 2 - 3 minutes.
Add the tomato sauce and paste, and simmer together for about 20 minutes. Add the beans, water and all. Taste, and adjust the seasoning, then stir in the chocolate until it melts. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes, then take off the heat and let it sit for a few minutes before serving.
Serve over rice or with a chunk of bread.