One of my favorite movie scenes of all time is from “Chocolat” where a young, sensual, French chocolatier named Vianne (played by Juliette Binoche, who TOTALLY gets to kiss Jonny Depp at the end, btw) gives a cup of cocoa to a crotchety, anti-social old woman (played charmingly by Judy Dench–but then, what ISN’T played charmingly by Judy Dench?).
The cocoa is dark, rich, and thick, but the old woman’s lips are bored before she even takes a sip. She begrudgingly takes a sip anyway, sits there for a moment, and then the chili pepper kicks in. Vianne has snuck it into the cocoa knowing it might have an effect, and it does: the old woman is struck so keenly by the contrast in flavor, she can’t help but be amused by it, and her prickly exterior gradually melts away as she comes into the shop repeatedly for more.
The film is about how Vianne transforms the uptight town with her chocolate.
And THAT is where I got the inspiration for this chili years ago. I should disclose that I did not invent the recipe. I actually went online looking for recipes that resembled what I was going for, and I was inspired by one I found online called “Chili Rick’s” on allrecipes.com. I tweaked it to my own liking and have since been the winner of more than one chili cook off as a result. I used to refer to it as my Chocolate Hickory Cha Cha. And frankly I still like the name. But this one made a little more sense. Let me know in my comments which you prefer. We’ll put it to a vote.
And without further ado, here is the recipe for my award-winning Chilean Chocolate Chili.
The ingredients consist of THREE separate meats, BBQ sauce, brown sugar, Italian seasoning, Chili pepper, and, of course, chocolate. At first glance, you might be a little uncertain of all the strong, authentic ethnic flavors coming together, but trust me, Grasshopper, your chili will be sublime.
After you start the base for the chili, cook up your bacon, ground beef, and sausage, and throw them in the pot.
- tip: for the sausage, I use scissors to cut into smaller pieces. It’s easier than using a knife.
- tip: for the bacon, I actually bake it in the oven at 400 degrees F. in really good stoneware for about 8 minutes. It gets nice and evenly crispy that way, without all the mess.
Next, add your remaining ingredients: chili pepper, BBQ sauce, brown sugar, and chocolate.
Stir until completely combined. Let this simmer for another 45 minutes, then let it cool down and chill in the fridge until mealtime when you can heat it up again.
I recommend making this in the morning if you are able. This gives the flavors a chance to blend throughout the day before you sit down to enjoy it.
Garnish with some sour cream and chocolate shavings, put some chocolate chip cornbread in the oven for a fun twist, and enjoy!
As a side note, I currently have 5 bottles of parsley, and NO basil to speak of. I found this out when trying to make an Italian seasoning blend and I couldn’t find the basil. But oh, don’t worry, there’s PLENTY of parsley. Next time I think I’ll just buy the Italian seasoning from McCormick and let them do the blending.
- 1 (29 oz.) can tomato sauce
- 1 (29 oz.) can Italian flavored peeled, diced tomatoes
- 1 cup diced onion
- 2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
- 2 (15.5 oz.) cans kidney beans, undrained
- ½ lb. thickly sliced hickory smoked bacon
- 1 lb. Italian sausage
- 1 lb. ground beef
- ⅛ cup chili powder
- 1 to 1½ cups hickory smoked BBQ sauce
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- 2 (1 oz.) squares 70% or more dark chocolate, cut into shards or shavings
- In a large pot, combine tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, kidney beans, and Italian seasoning and simmer on low.
- In a large skillet, sauté the onion in a little bit of oil or butter until slightly soft, then pour into the pot.
- In the same skillet, cook the bacon until slightly crisp. Drain, dice into thick chunks, and pour into pot.
- Cook ground beef until brown. Drain, and pour into pot.
- Cook sausage until brown. Drain, dice, and pour into pot.
- Combine the chili power, BBQ sauce, brown sugar, and chocolate into the pot and stir until well blended, and let simmer for 45 minutes.