Veggie Chili with Chocolate

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Not everybody builds a meal around a few pieces of chocolate, but here, it’s the secret ingredient in a chili that’s delicious, sustaining, and tastes good-for-you-but-not-in-a-preachy-kind-of-way.  Chip, the dude, is the master of this recipe that’s infinitely adapatable.  It feeds a lot of people for a lot of days, and gets more and more flavorful over time.

Ingredients:

1 onion

3 medium cloves

3 medium carrots

3 celery stalks

1 medium fennel bulb

2 medium zucchini

2 medium yellow squash(es)

8 oz shiitake mushrooms

8 oz portobello mushrooms

1 ear of fresh sweet corn

1 12oz can of black beans

1 12oz can of kidney beans

2 jalapeño peppers

2-3 serrano peppers

1 poblano pepper

1 fresno chili

1 red bell pepper

1 yellow bell pepper

3 tbs chili powder (multiple kinds)

1 tbs cumin

kosher salt

Fresh cracked black pepper

2-3 oz. dark dhocolate  (70% cacao or higher)

1 16oz can peeled San Marzano tomatoes

1 12oz can diced tomatoes

1 cup chopped spinach

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

4 cups low sodium chicken stock

 

Prep: Cut the hot peppers and garlic into a fine dice. The onions and celery into a medium dice. The fennel, squash, bell pepper and mushrooms into bite size pieces.

In an 8 quart dutch oven, heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil over medium heat and add the diced onion and diced hot peppers. (Don’t add the bell peppers yet.) Let them cook for 2-3 minutes stirring occasionally and add a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the garlic and cook 2 more minutes.

Now add the cumin and chili powder and stir. Cook for 2 minutes.

Add the carrots, celery, fennel, squash, bell pepper and mushrooms. Season with a couple of pinches of salt and pepper. Cook until they begin to soften, usually around 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices and bring to a bubble. We use “no salt added” tomatoes so we can control the salt level. Crush the whole tomatoes with your hands as you add them. (It’s always fun to cook with your hands.)

When the tomatoes bubble add the chicken stock and bring to a bubble then reduce to a simmer. Add the beans and corn and cook for 6 minutes. Then stir in the chocolate and spinach. When the spinach is wilted cut the heat and stir in the cilantro. Add salt and pepper if needed and serve.

There are many ingredients in this dish that need to be chopped into bite size pieces or cut to a fine dice. It’s a great dish to show off, or help develop, your knife skills. You can use a mandoline if you have one. Watch your fingers!  We speak from direct, recent experience when we say this…

This recipe is very flavorful and spicy. You can adjust the number of serrano and jalapeño peppers but don’t leave them out. The multiple pepper combination gives the chili a broad range of flavors. The sugar in the carrots and the corn balance out the acid of the tomatoes. The chocolate smooths the sharp edges of the peppers.

The rule for chocolate in cooking is like the rule for cooking with wine–use something that you like.  In our house, that means the darker the better.  And resist the temptation to add just a little more. If you want more chocolate, have it afterwards.

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This is what we have in the pantry right now. It won’t last long.

 

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