Looking at other blogs, I notice that there are lots of braised meals, soups, stews, and chili being made by fellow bloggers. With the weather growing colder, it's the perfect time to make these types of meals. On Tuesday I made a huge pot of Nigella Lawson's Chili With Chocolate Chips, inspired to do so after seeing her make it on a morning talk show. The host of the show was horrified when Nigella tossed a modest amount of dark chocolate chips into the chili. It was Regis Philbin and although he complained vociferously about the chocolate, the chilies, and the onions, he judged the finished dish as "delicious". I wasn't surprised as I like Nigella's recipes, even though they can be inaccurate. (More about that later.) So, after seeing her make the chili, I went to the store and bought nearly five pounds of beef and sausage. I fully expected to have a huge pot of great tasting chili that would provide leftovers aplenty. And I did. This wasn't a hot chili. Made according to the recipe, it was mild, but the heat could be increased by adding more crushed chili, hot sauce, or cayenne pepper. The recipe includes many of my favorite herbs and spices, including cilantro, ground coriander, cinnamon, and whole cardamom pods. I especially liked the taste of the cardamom, so I'm featuring it as my "herb" of choice for Weekend Herb Blogging, which was created by the marvelous Kalyn at Kalyn's Kitchen. This weekend Kalyn is hosting WHB, so stop by her site and see the roundup of herby recipes from around the world.
I used green cardamom pods for this recipe, from Penzeys. Cardamom has a strong, unique taste, with a sweet, aromatic fragrance. One of the most expensive spices by weight, it's best stored in pod form, because once the seeds are exposed or ground, they quickly lose their flavor. For this recipe, you simply crush the pod with a knife blade and toss them into the chili. The smell of the cardamom after you crush it is wonderful.
I mentioned that Nigella recipes can sometimes be inaccurate. Most of the time they're fine, but it occasionally seems like Nigella dashes them off in the back of a cab, with no proofreading for errors. I'm glad I saw her actually cook the chili, because what I saw her doing on TV didn't match the recipe. But, Nigella--I really like you. Next time you're in Davis, call me.
The recipe is quite easy to make, much simpler than some chili recipes with long lists of ingredients. It begins with sauteeing 1 pound of onions, garlic, and a chili pepper, to which the spices/herbs are added.
I then realized that my Le Crueset pot was much too small, so I transferred everything to a larger pot. In her recipe, Nigella tells you to add nearly 5 pounds of meat and "brown" it by stirring it with the onion mixture. I knew that couldn't happen, even with my gonzo burner turned all the way up. There was too much meat crammed in that pot. As Julia Child always warned, it sweated, not browned.
Then I added cans of black and kidney beans, and chopped tomatoes. The recipe didn't tell you to put the tomatoes in, but I saw Nigella do it on TV. The recipe called for tomato puree, but on TV Nigella used tomato paste. I'm wondering if tomato paste is called tomato puree in England?
Hollywood Trivia: The lovely actress Kim Novak (Vertigo, Picnic) didn't like to cook very often. So, she made huge pots of chili and ate the leftovers almost every day. Her husband at the time, Richard Johnson, grew tired of this after several months. They wound up divorcing. Was it the chili?
Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Chip Chilli (Nigella Lawson)
1lb Italian sausages
3lb 4oz shin of beef cut into three quarter inch cubes (I used "stew meat")
3 cloves garlic
1 long red chili, seeded
1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil
3 cardamom pods, bruised
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon dried crushed chillies
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup tomato ketchup
2 (14oz) cans kidney beans
2 (14oz) cans black beans
3 (14oz) cans chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon chili sauce (optional)
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup water (swilled out in the chopped tomato cans)
Preheat the oven to 325F.
Finely chop, or process the onion, garlic and chili. Heat the oil in a large pan and fry this mixture until soft, add the bruised cardamom seeds, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and dried chillies. Stir the oniony-spiced mixture together and then add the sausages sliced into eighth-inch coins.(On TV, Nigella used sausage that wasn't in casings and she crumbled it into the pot and cooked it. That's what I did.) Drop in the cubes of beef turning them in the pan with the sausages to brown the meat. (It won't brown.)
Stir in the tomato paste, tomatoes, ketchup and drained kidney and black beans. Add the chili sauce and water and bring the chili to a boil, sprinkle over the chocolate and stir it all together. Season with salt, and once simmering cover the pan with a lid.
Put the chili in the oven and cook for 3 hours. Once cooked it is best left overnight as the flavor improves.