If you are a feral carnivore, like my husband, this Chocolate Chilli con Carne is a good way of introducing more beans and veg to your diet without feeling oppressed. The overtones are there (what man won’t wolf down a Chilli Con Beast?), but so is the nutritional purchase. It doesn’t actually taste of chocolate, but rather, utilises cacao powder as another spice in the mix. By downloading some good podcasts at RadioLab.org, you’ll prep this before you even realise it. Put your feet up, and enjoy the dance your nostrils will do over the next 2 hours. Serve with great big dollops of cultured coconut yoghurt, macerated red onions and exceptional company.
– 1 1/2 cups dried kidney beans, soaked overnight
– 2 onions
– 2 red peppers
– 1 large carrot
– 4 garlic cloves
– extra virgin olive or coconut oil, for sautéing
– 2 tablespoons tomato purée (optional)
– 1 tablespoon dried oregano
– 1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
– 1 tablespoon sweet or hot paprika (optional)
– 1 cinnamon stick
– good pinch of dried chilli flakes
– pinch of coconut sugar (optional)
– 500g minced beef
– 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
– just over 300ml vegetable or beef stock
– salt and pepper
– 1 tablespoon ground cumin
– 2–4 squares dark or raw chocolate (optional)
– 1 small red onion
– 1 really juicy lime
– 1 tablespoon nam pla (optional)
– fistful of fresh coriander (optional)
– natural coconut yoghurt, like CoYo
1. First off, soak the dried kidney beans overnight. The next day, prep the veggies. I find the easiest way to dice the onions is to cut each onion in half, from root to toe. Peel and place the flat part on the chopping board. With a slicing action, make little matchsticks from the onion lengthways, but not quite cutting all the way to the root end so that they are still held together. Now slice across the matchsticks. Roughly chop the peppers and carrot into bite-sized chunks, discarding the pepper seeds and stalks. Slice your garlic and line up all your dried spices and herbs. Now you’re ready to cook.
2. Heat a little oil in your largest sauté pan or frying pan (I have 2 going at the same time to speed things up). Sweat the onions first, stirring regularly for 10 minutes, until they become glassy. Put them aside, then sauté the peppers and carrot until soft but not browned. Add the garlic towards the end, along with the tomato purée, spices and coconut sugar (if using). Cook for a good 5 minutes and let your nostrils samba. Remove from the heat and pile on top of the resting onions.
3. Now whack up the heat and brown the mince all over. Mince needs to be browned or the end result will be disappointingly insipid. You may need to do this in 2 batches. Tip in the soaked kidney beans (tinned is okay in an emergency), tinned tomatoes and stock. Don’t worry if it looks a little icky. The pot will transform in a few hours. Stir in the veg, pop a lid on and let it paddle on a low heat for 2–3 hours. It’s done as soon as the beans are soft, but not mushy.
4. Taste, tickle with salt and pepper and add the cumin and dark chocolate to liven it up. If you feel it needs more pungency, add some yeast extract, blackstrap molasses or chopped anchovies. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t.
5. To serve, cut the red onion in half and finely slice into semi-circles. Squeeze the lime over the onions, and allow them to party with the nam pla. Top each bowl of chilli con carne with a little macerated red onion, fresh coriander (if using) and a great big dollop of cultured coconut yoghurt in place of sour cream. It’s the holy trinity to a good con carne.
Our recommended Wine Pairing for this Recipe
Petit Bourgeois Pinot Noir Rosé €15.49
100% Pinot Noir Rosé
Henri Bourgeois winery located in the beautiful Loire Valley. Where they have been making wine for ten generations and they are terrior driven.
This wine has beautiful wild strawberries, damsons, lime leaf and floral notes on the nose. Although it has a slightly perfumed it has got a fantastic fruity nose with delicate minerality.
The palate is just juicy, and full for a rosé. It’s filled with summer berry fruits; this is a lush wine with a light touch of tannin.
This wine will pair beautifully with this hearty dish as it will bring a refreshing touch to it while keeping the purity of the dish.
Available from O’Brien’s Wines Nationwide or Online.
As a student surviving on a diet of caffeine and refined white carbs, Susan Jane’s health took a sudden nosedive and she ended up in hospital. She eventually discovered that wheat and sugar were lethal to her system. When she cut them out and recovered, she realised the intimate connection between energy levels and the food we eat. As she expanded her repertoire to cater for her sensitivities, she was pleasantly surprised to find there was nothing restrictive about her new diet. Her food intolerances were, in fact, an opportunity to escape the shackles of energy-sapping processed food. Here she shares her much sought after, delicious recipes for sugar-free, dairy-free and wheat-free eating.
The Extra Virgin Kitchen is published by Gill & Macmillan and is available in stores nationwide and online, priced at €27.99.