Chocolate has long been used in savoury dishes. The earthy bitterness of cocoa is a natural in rich meaty dishes like beef stew.
Yield: Dinner for 6
2 pounds or so blade pot roast, cut into large chunks
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 onions peeled and chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
28 ounce Can of Whole Tomatoes
1 cup beef broth
1 dried Ancho pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 heaping spoonfuls cocoa powder
2 ounces 70% dark chocolate, chopped
Salt To Taste
Dry the beef chunks well with paper towel and heat a large heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat. Add a thin film of oil and when thin wisps of smoke begin to appear, carefully add a single layer of beef. Patiently sear the beef on all sides adding the unmistakable richness of flavour that can only come from browning. Depending on the size of your pot you may have to do this in several batches so the meat doesn’t overwhelm the works and cool the pan. When all the beef has been browned add it back to the pot.
Add the celery, onions and carrots. Add the tomatoes, chopping them a bit with a spoon. Add beef broth, Ancho, spices and cocoa and stir well. Season with salt and bring to a simmer. Continue simmering until the beef is very tender and the broth has thickened, about 1-1/2 hours. Stir in the dark chocolate and serve immediately!
Braising is my favourite cooking method. I just love the way it can transform an inexpensive, tough cut of beef into a tasty tender stew. Toss in the earthy flavours of root vegetables and aromatic red wine, and you are well on your way to a rich flavour base. But the real secret to a truly memorable beef stew is patiently browning the meat.