A few weeks ago I went to visit my family in Illinois and we attended one of our favorite events – a local tradition for 30 years, the Belleville Chili Cook Off. I hadn’t been thinking about fall food much, as it was still 90 degrees plus here in California. The chili that won “people’s choice” was a delicious combination of savory, spicy and sweet – chocolate chili! I had never tasted chili with cocoa powder and as soon as I came home I started researching recipes. I am still refining, but this my best effort so far. This doesn’t taste exactly like the winner – I am still working back channels to see if I can get my hands on that one – but it is really close. Try it and see what you think about adding cocoa powder to chili. We are having our own neighborhood chili cook off later this month and this is what I plan to make. Tip: I use the food processor to chop the onions and peppers – it makes the prep time much shorter.
2 pounds good quality ground beef, 85/15
2 medium white or yellow onions, finely chopped
3 teaspoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons chopped garlic (I use Christoper Ranch, but any jar chopped garlic found in the produce section will work)
4 tablespoons good quality unsweetened cocoa powder ( I use Rodelle)
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2 15 ounce cans dark red kidney beans
2 15 ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
4 cups tomato sauce
sour cream and cilantro to garnish, of desired
In a large dutch oven, brown the ground beef over medium high heat. After 5 minutes, add the onion, chili powder and cumin, chopping and stirring continuously until beef is browned and onions are soft. Next, add the cumin, garlic, cocoa powder, sugar and jalapeño. Mix together thoroughly and cook for 3 minutes. it should look like this:
Next, add in the beans, and cayenne, and cook for another minute or so. Add the tomatoes and tomato sauce and mix well.
Cook partially covered on low heat for 30 minutes, then adjust seasonings to your taste. Cook an additional 30 minutes. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and chopped cilantro, if desired. Makes 10-12 servings.