Thursday, February 21, 2013


Valentines day brings chocolate to stores everywhere (thank god that's over). Subjected to terrible heart shaped chocolates (the kind that hurt your teeth) and a forewarning of terrible Easter bunnies to come, it is an overindulgence of sweets that most of us don't really need.

But chocolate is so good, we cannot simply ignore it!

In fact, chocolate should be, and is, celebrated. (In NYC Feb. 4th through the 13th is Chocolate Week, sorry you missed it)

Now I don't mean Milky Ways and Hershey Kisses, but rather the more savory side of chocolate.

Savory chocolate like a Mexican style mole of slow simmered chocolate and cinnamon and about a million other ingredients.
Savory dishes like the chili recipe with a healthy dose of bittersweet swirled in for richness and depth. The double chocolate porter or oatmeal stout you use for your signature beef stew recipe that creates a silky background and a malty sweetness.

I'm talking chocolate with chilies and salt. I'm talking chocolate! (This is also an excuse to use up all the chocolate laying around the house you're trying to avoid.)

The bitterness of unsweetened chocolate pairs very well with deep-flavored, complex dishes. Stew, chili, and braises, all gain a familiar, but hard to place, unctuous quality when chocolate is added.

Once you start using chocolate in recipes, you'll start using it more and more.

Mole style chocolate is up first. In order to learn all you need about Mole, I suggest the wiki on it.

I suggest using Mexican style chocolate for all your mole dishes. Taza, a brand from Mass., has quite a few different flavors that would be conducive to cooking, including a salt and pepper flavor, as well as almond, serrano, orange, the list goes on. They have so many flavors. 

Most Mole adaptations are based on the poblano style. A rich sauce of chilies and chocolate, finished with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds. The number of ingredients and amount of each, varies depending on who is making it, but the basic principle is vegetables (tomato, onion), dried chilies, chocolate, spices and nuts. Everything together is very flavorful. You don't need a lot of each ingredient to make a lot of sauce.

Some Mole recipes here, and here are a great start to making actual mole and enjoying a flavorful sauce that's great anytime of the year. This next recipe is especially nice on a cold day (oven) or in the summer heat (smoker/outside).  I wish I had taken these pictures...

Intense Mole Ribs - You can make these in your oven instead of a smoker, so it's a good excuse to get your house warm with the wonderful aroma of meat! It is a relatively easy recipe but requires a little bit of work. It's totally worth it.

So we get the point that chocolate is awesome, right? Okay, here is a list of recipes worth trying.

Lamb rub with chocolate and cloves - I love the way this recipe combines cloves with chocolate. I find cloves to be a very in-your-face flavor that is generally forgotten except in baked ham or mulled cider.

Chocolate Stout Chili - Great excuse to go buy some awesome chocolate stouts (a great beer!). This recipe has the added bonus of using both bittersweet chocolate and a chocolate stout. I like Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, and also Rogue Chocolate Stout (22oz. bottle means you get some too).

Steak with Chocolate Stout pan sauce? - Why yes, yes I would like a steak.

Give these a try, and you might just start using more chocolate around the house.

What are some of your favorite recipes for chocolate?

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