Choco-chili: the recipe

Blork’s Choco-chili

Before you use this recipe, you might want to read the choco-chili polemic from Monday.


• About 750 gr (a bit more than 1.5 pounds) pot roast or other low-cost chunk of beef
• 2 onions, diced or sliced
• 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, minced
• 1 tomato, chopped
• 6 or 7 jalapeno or similar hot chilis, seeded to taste, and chopped
• 1 19-oz can of black beans or kidney beans, drained and rinsed
• 11/12ths of a red or amber beer (I’m sure you can think of something tasty to do with the remaining 12th)
• 1 tbsp (or so) dried cumin
• 2 tbsp (or so) paprika (this is primarily for color and thickening)
• 1 tbsp (or so) chili powder (optional)
• 2 or 3 tbsp hot sauce (optional)
• 2 small chunks of dark chocolate, about the size of a pair of dice


The first step is to freeze the beef and then thaw it. More precisely, half-thaw it. That makes the next step much easer.

Cut the beef into nine or ten chunks. Cutting against the grain, slice the chunks into slivers as thin as possible (this is much easier to do if the beef is half-frozen).

In a very large cast-iron frying pan, add a bit of olive oil, then begin browning the beef over medium heat.

When the beef is two-thirds browned, add the onions and garlic and continue stirring and browning (note: you want the onions and garlic to soften, not brown).

Add the chopped chiles and the tomato. Continue to stir-fry for another minute.

Stir in the cumin and paprika. Let it warm up in the pan to release its aromas.

Add the 11 ounces of beer and stir.

Cover, reduce the heat, and let simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally.

Add the beans.

Let simmer for another 30 or 40 minutes.

By now, everything should have come together to make a nice stew with a rich, red-brown sauce that is fairly thick. Taste it. If it isn’t spicy or zingy enough for you, add some chili powder and/or hot sauce. (Ideally, this won’t be necessary.)

Add the chocolate. Stir for a few minutes until it is melted and fully integrated.

Serve with a nice crusty baguette and a salad. Ideally, you should refrigerate it overnight and re-heat it the next day, but I won’t hold it against you if you can’t wait.

The result looks something like this.

Update: in later variations of this recipe I added two chipotle peppers, and extended the simmering time. Yummy! I’ve also started using smoked paprika, which (especially when combined with the chipotles) gives it a nice smoky undertone.

17 thoughts on “Choco-chili: the recipe

  1. It’s posts like this

    that keep us coming back for more, and demonstrate why Blork is in the top stratum of bloggers: Choco-chili: the polemic. And then there’s the recipe itself, which I am to try tonight….

  2. Hi blork–

    gordon here. i have been enjoying/lurking on your site for a while now–i got here from lisa macdonald’s site.

    your chili looks awesome–have you ever tried any of those “other” peppers, like chipotle or ancho chiles? or those smoked, dried peppers you soak to reconstitute?or cubanel peppers? i have not, and wondered if you have.

    take care,

  3. Susan’s comment rings true with me… even if it’s way past lunchtime. This is tomorrow’s project, for sure.

  4. Gordon!

    Yes, I’ve used various chilis for various things, and I generally like them all. I haven’t been very consistent with my chili making, however, so it is difficult to say which ones work better in each circumstance. This choco-chili marks my first attempt to nail-down some specific recipes.

    However, my chili “research” is still in the early stages. For this choco-chili, for example, I’ll bet it would be really nice with one or two chipotle or other smoked peppers in it. Just enough for a bit of an aroma to compliment the chocolate. I might try that with the next batch (if I can find any).

    Last summer I roasted a handful of cherry pepper on the BBQ and mixed them with white wine vinegar as a sort of relish for sandwiches. Frickin POTENT but awfully tasty!

    Oh yeah, I wanna keep up this line of research!

  5. I have a cooking conundrum for you, blork.

    I love chilis and stews and all the things that can be made with beef, even meatloaf! But most of these things require onions for full effect – and, because of the consort’s allergies, I can’t use onions. I’ve been going without and lamenting the loss of zing, and just now lamenting my inability to make this beautiful recipe… but it just occured to me that you, master of cuisine improvisation and trivia, might have a solution for me. So: is there anything I can use in place of onion, to give dishes that special something they lack without it?

  6. I feel so sorry for you and the consort. For me, life without onions would be like life without sunshine!

    Is he only allergic to onions specifically? Have you tried different types of onions, like red onions, Spanish onions, etc?

    There are other members of the onion family too, such as shallots and leeks. (Shallots — not green onions — in particular would be a perfect substitute because they taste oniony but are much milder.) Unfortunately, chances are that if he’s allergic to onions he’s allergic to these things too.

    Another possibility is the Indian spice asafoetida, which is made from the fennel plant. It is very stinky and should be used sparingly, but it has an oniony taste. If you can find it, and can manage the aroma, just use a pinch or two, and then throw in some celery for texture.

    Other Indian spices would add zing to meaty dishes too, like garam masala.

    Another possiblity is Japanese daikon radish, or even regular round radishes. Not the same texture, but they are zingy.

    That’s all I can think of for now.

  7. Blork, you can find dried chipotles at Anatol on St-Laurent (as well as a full range of other dried peppers, including habaneros).

  8. I was about to ask where one can find an interesting assortment of dried and fresh peppers in Montreal, but Marty read my mind. I have a yummy cookbook on cooking with heat, but have a hard time finding most of the peppers the recipes call for.

    Now, to be extra hopeful: anybody know any stores closer to the NDG area that might fit the bill?

  9. I dropped into Anatol on the weekend and got some dried chipotle peppers (and a few other things). The place really is amazing.

    Unfortunately, I’m not that familiar with shopping in NDG. I know the Iranian store — that one on Sherbrooke St. (Arakan or something like that)has plenty of yummy things but I’m not sure how they are for dried stuff. There’s also that Korean grocer a block or two away — they have some pretty interesting and exotic stuff too.

    Bill: glad to be of service! :-)

  10. Thanks blork! Will check those out.

    At the risk of sounding totally gauche, a shallot is not the same as a green onion??

  11. Nope. Shallots are those small oniony looking things that have brown, dry skins, just like onions — except that they usually have two “bulbs” under the skin. You peel and cut them like onions. In French they’re eschallots francais. In the grocery store you usually see them in a red mesh bag, about a dozen or so, for $1.99. More here…

    Green onions are basically really young onions that are picked before they form a big onion bulb. They are sometimes called “scallions,” which is probably the source of confusion with shallots (quite common, actually).

  12. You folks are going to love those dried chipotles. They’re so much better and smokier than the canned ones. Just a word of warning: they’ve got a lot of presence and kick. Any more than two in a large stew and they could become overwhelming. Novices or the heat-shy will want to start with a single one.

  13. The English Article

    Howdy! In case anybody is interested this is the article that appears in today’s Gazette. Hey, nice blog you’ve got Less than five years ago, only a handful of montreal bloggers existed; now they number close to 1,000, and many…

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