When I was a little girl, I used to sit by my grandma and watch westerns like Bonanza, How The West Was Won and The High Chaparral. My grandma has a thing for cowboys. Cowboy songs, cowboy TV shows and anything cowboy. I don't know why. She referred to all those cowboy series as "cowboy phor" (cowboy story in Hokkien). So I guess I had a good dose of cowboys (and the occasional Red Indians) when I was growing up.
That was why I was quite amused when I saw this recipe. Even more so when I found that chocolate is one of the ingredients. I have watched cooking shows where chocolate is used in Mexican cooking. I used to wonder how a savory dish would taste like with chocolate. This was the time to find out.
I had two slabs of beef (weighing approximately 1kg/2lbs) in the freezer. The original intention was to cook my mum's beef curry. I left it to defrost in the fridge overnight. I was not certain what sort of chocolate to use (surely not the milk chocolate or dark chocolate that I like to nom nom on) but the recipe said unsweetened chocolate.
So I simply whacked the 70% cocoa dark chocolate that my auntie gave me. After all it was only 1/2 an ounce (full recipe is 1 ounce and I did half recipe) which is approximately 14g but I may have overdosed (because I was too lazy to use my kitchen scale).
The spice mix is made up of cumin powder, chili powder, ground cumin, dried oregano and smoked paprika. All these are mixed together with some beef stock (I used chicken stock hah..hah..) and chocolate.
At the end of the cooking time, I had a taste of the gravy. I got an audible mmm..... from me. Not bad. But I could taste the chocolate. I know I put a bit too much or was it psychological? I knew there was chocolate in there and my mind probably registered the taste of chocolate. But it wasn't weird or anything like that. The recipe did say that you should keep the chili for up to 5 days in the fridge for the flavors to develop. That should do the trick.
|I love my Mexican sambal.|
On day three, I dished out some of the chili and let it stand to room temperature before heating it up. And yes! The flavors were so full bodied and so robust that a cowboy would whoop a lusty yeehaw upon tasting a spoonful. And best of all, I could not detect the taste of chocolate anymore. I served the chili sprinkled with some spring onions, cilantro and a heap of Salsa Roja Asada. It was good. So so good. Yeehaw!
Southwest Cowboy Chili
Recipe source : Nom Nom Paleo (page 224)
(My notes and adaptations in red)
- 1 (4lb/2kg) beef chuck roast, cut into 2 inch cubes (I used 1kg)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt (I omitted)
- 4 slices bacon, cut into 1/4 inch pieces (I whacked the whole 250g bacon in the packet, Amen)
- 1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1/2 inch dice
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste (I used 1 heap tablespoon)
- 1/4 cup Ancho chile powder (I used 1 tbsp cayenne powder)
- 2 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano (I used 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano)
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 6 cups Bone Broth or chicken stock, divided (I used 1.5 litre of water and added 1 chicken stock cube)
- 1 ounce (28g) unsweetened chocolate, shaved (I used about 35g, yikes! I just broke them into cubes as they will melt anyway)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- juice from 1 small lime (I omitted)
- Freshly ground black pepper
For garnishing (optional) :
- 1/2 medium white onion, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
- 1/2 cup minced cilantro
- 1/2 cup julienned radishes
- 2 small limes, quartered
1. Preheat oven to 275F (135C).
2. In a large bowl, toss the beef with salt and set aside (I skipped this).
3. Cook the bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir occasionally to ensure even browning. Once it's crisp, transfer the crunchy bacon to a platter with a slotted spoon.
4. Increase the heat to medium-high. In batches, add the beef in a single layer to the bacon drippings in the Dutch oven. Brown the meat on two sides, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the beef to a plate.
5. Lower the heat to medium, and add the yellow onion and tomato paste. Saute until the onion is tender and translucent, about 5 minutes. In the meantime, combine the chili powder, cumin oregano, paprika and 1/2 cup of the stock in a small bowl. Mix until smooth and then stir in the chocolate shavings.
6. When the onion is soft, stir in the garlic and chili-chocolate mixture, and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the seared beef, cooked bacon, the remaining broth and the lime juice. Stir well. Increase the heat to high and bring the contents of the Dutch oven up to a boil. Cover, but leave the lid slightly ajar. Place the pot in the oven, and cook for 3 hours or until meat is fork-tender. (I simmered the stew on the stove top. It took me 2 hours).
7. Taste and season with salt and pepper and place the chili in the refrigerator or up to 5 days to enable the flavors to meld. Reheat on the stove, and if desired, top with chopped white onion, cilantro, radishes and limes.