Chili with Cinnamon and Cacao

The classic Mexican pairing of chili pepper, tomato, and unsweetened chocolate gives a richness of flavor you have to taste to understand. And once you do, it's unlikely you'll ever turn back. Cook and feast within the hour, or keep the chili over a night or two and the flavor only deepens. It's mild enough for gringo-mouths, but splash it with green and red pepper sauces if you like more fire. Along with scallion, sour cream and avocado, we love smoky, chipotle hot sauce.

Makes 5 Servings - $2.50 per serving Show Detailed Pricing

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon oil (a mildly flavored one like canola or safflower)
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • salt and pepper, to taste 
  • 1 large (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons large green chile peppers, diced (canned)
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 1 can of black beans (15 oz.)
  • 1 can of kidney beans (15 oz.)
  • 5 tortillas
  • 5 ounces sour cream
  • 2 scallions, sliced thinly
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • green and red pepper sauces (optional) 
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
  1. In a medium size stew pot (an enamel one if you have it), place the onion and oil and sauté 4-5 minutes or until the onion starts to brown slightly. Add the meat, cumin, cinnamon, salt and pepper to taste. Turn up the heat and use a fork to break the meat apart as it lightly browns. This should take 5 minutes or less.
  2. Add tomatoes, 2/3 cup water, green chilies, and the cocoa powder to the meat and onion mixture. Stir, cover, and simmer 5 minutes.
  3. Drain the beans of their liquid and add them to the pot. Simmer 10 or more minutes longer, depending how hungry you are. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  4. To serve, tuck a folded tortilla into each bowl, ladle on the chili, and place a spoonful of sour cream on top of each serving. Garnish with scallion and avocado. Pass the hot sauce!

Notes:

Cocoa and cacao powder are both made from the bean of the plant Theobroma cacao. But cacao powder is raw whereas the more readily available, and less expensive, cocoa powder is roasted. 

You can use half a fresh jalapeño pepper in place of the canned green chilies if you prefer. Just take care to remove the seeds before mincing it and do taste for heat, using more or less accordingly. Chili peppers are unpredictable!

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