For this month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog has issued the challenge of using chilli with chocolate. I have a slightly childish fascination for the way that chocolate can enhance and balance the flavours of savoury dishes and so this seemed like too good an opportunity to miss.
I’d like to tell you that this is an authentic Mexican dish but I don’t really do authentic. In fact, this started out as a Pat Chapman version of a Mexican recipe some time ago, but it’s wandered a fair way from the original now and seems to have picked up some hints of korma on the way.
It might seem like a long list of ingredients, but it’s actually a pretty simple dish to put together. You can use more chillies if you like, but personally I think this dish should be fragrant rather than seriously hot. The amount given here should serve 2 – 3.
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 – 2 tbsp fresh chillies, finely chopped
2 tsp sesame seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp aniseed (or use fennel seeds if you don’t have aniseed)
25 g hazelnuts
25 g cashew nuts
A small handful of sultanas
1 tbsp light brown soft sugar
500 g skinless turkey thigh, cut into chunks (or you could use chicken)
250 ml passata (or sieved tomatoes)
10 – 20 g dark chocolate
1 tbsp chopped parsley (or coriander)
In a generously sized pan, start to soften the onion in a little oil for 5 minutes or so. Add the garlic and chillies and continue frying gently for another 5 minutes. Put the contents of the pan into a blender or processor.
Lightly toast the sesame, cumin, coriander and aniseed in a dry frying pan for a minute or so (don’t overdo it), then add them to the blender. Lightly toast the hazelnuts and cashew nuts in the same way, being careful not to scorch them. Put the toasted nuts into the blender.
Add the sultanas and sugar to the blender together with a generous grinding of black pepper and a little salt. Process the contents of the blender adding enough water to make a loose paste.
Pour a little more oil into the pan and fry the paste for 2 – 3 minutes, stirring all the time. If the paste seems to be drying out, add a little more water. Stir the turkey into the paste and continue cooking for another 2 – 3 minutes. Stir in the passata, bring to a simmer and cover the pan. Continue simmering gently until the turkey is thoroughly cooked. (The simmering time will vary with the size of the chunks and how gently you simmer but somewhere between 15 and 30 minutes should do it).
Finely grate and stir the chocolate into the sauce a little at a time, tasting as you go. The chocolate should add a bitter note to balance the sweetness, but don’t overdo it or the sauce will either become too bitter or taste too strongly of chocolate.
Sprinkle over a little parsley and serve with plain rice or flat breads or both.