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Chocolate Beyond Dessert

Savory Chocolate FoodsChocolate is known all over the world as an ingredient for sweets, and for most people the word chocolate will conjure images of dessert. Believe it or not, however, this product lends itself very well to savory dishes as well. Here are some savory dishes that include chocolate as a flavoring agent.

In 9 Savory Dishes with Chocolate posted in Food-All Women’s Talk, Lyndsie Robinson says: “Because dark-chocolate is such a power food, lots of gourmets, gourmands, and foodies are experimenting and creating more savory recipes with this this dessert. You might think that the traditionally sweet treat wouldn’t taste good in a savory dish, but if you do it right, chocolate adds a richness and texture to many sorts of dishes. If you’re feeling a little adventurous and want to try something new, consider making some savory recipes with this sweet!” Her recipes include a spinach pear salad with a chocolate vinaigrette dressing, and beef chili with chocolate.

Savory Chocolate Recipes

Braised Ribs with Chocolate

Short ribs make an interesting and robust main dish when flavored with chocolate. In Braised Short Ribs with Chocolate And Rosemary, Bruce Aidells and Nancy Oakes of Epicurious share an excellent recipe. It requires a fourth of a cup of Italian bacon, six pounds of short ribs (bone in), a cup and a half of finely chopped onions, and ¼ cup each of finely chopped shallots, celery, and carrots. In addition to these, their recipe calls for three minced garlic cloves, three cups of chicken broth, two cups of red wine, two tablespoons of parsley, two cups of canned tomatoes (chopped and drained), thyme, and bay leaf. Fir the chocolate part, you need three tablespoons of grated bittersweet-chocolate, two tablespoons of unsweetened Dutch processed cocoa powder, and a teaspoon of fresh rosemary (chopped).

To prepare this dish, you begin by sautéing the pancetta (Italian bacon) until it is crisp, and you use the pancetta drippings to thoroughly brown the ribs. After removing the ribs from your pan, add the onions, the celery, and the carrots for ten minutes. Add the wine next, allowing your mixture to reduce to about half. Add the rest of the ingredients, making sure your scrape up the browned bits on the sides of the pan. Then, after five minutes or so, add the ribs and simmer for an hour and a half or so (or until the meat is tender.

Transfer ribs to a serving plate and allow the sauce to boil till thickened. This should take about five to eight minutes. Then, add the chocolate, the cocoa, and stir until the chocolate is fully melted. Return the ribs to the pot, simmer for about five minutes, and serve. Voila! A robust dish with an ever-so-subtle hint of chocolate!

Chicken with Chocolate

In Venezuelan Chocolate Chicken, Enrique Gili of MNN shares a recipe that provides a truly novel twist to poultry dishes. This dish calls for minced garlic, chopped shallots, three pounds of chicken legs and thighs, the juice and zest of three Valencia oranges, three chopped jalapeno and two dried ancho chillies, and a tablespoon of coriander seeds. His recipe also includes about two cups of canned tomatoes, a tablespoon of brown sugar, three ounces of dark chocolate (70% cacao), and four sprigs of cilantro.

The chicken is initially browned on all sides and then is braised with the other ingredients for about half an hour. When the chicken is cooked, the sauce is thickened, and the chocolate is added for what Gili refers to as added depth and complexity.

Pairing Savory Chocolate with Wine

When using chocolate as an ingredient in a savory dish, the key to a good wine match is to have a bottle that is strong enough to hold its own without drowning the subtle addition of chocolate to the dish.

You can, of course, seek the advice of experts. In Ask a Sommelier: Can You Pair Wine and Chocolate? Serious Eats quotes Sommelier Savannah Ray who says: “What about including chocolate in the main dish? Cocoa powder as the main component of a spice rub for ribs or a steak. Or using chocolate for a savory sauce? Then you could pair it with a rich Dry Creek Zinfandel or a spicy Barossa Valley Shiraz…”  Or, you can follow your heart and your taste buds and simply look for the wine that suits you best.

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