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Ernesto’s Winning Chili

When we saw that this chili contained chocolate, we put it to the top of our recipe pile and we were not disappointed — on the contrary, we will never make chili without chocolate again! It brings a depth of flavor and a rich roundness to an otherwise potentially plain bowl of meat and beans. Serving it in a large bowl atop a pile of Fritos equalled one very happy husband!

Ernesto’s Winning Chili

1 tbs. vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 red pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
2 medium vine tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp. hot or 2 tsp. mild chili powder
1 tsp. paprika (regular or smoked)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 lb. lean (10% fat) ground beef
scant ½ cup red wine
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme
3 tsp. tomato paste
14 oz. tin chopped tomatoes
1 cup beef stock
2 bay leaves
1 medium cinnamon stick
14 oz. tin kidney beans, drained and rinsed
14 oz. tin corn
1¼ oz. dark chocolate, chopped
avocado, sour cream, and fresh cilantro, to serve

Heat the oil over a medium heat and cook the onions for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the garlic, pepper, and vine tomatoes, then cook, stirring for 6-8 minutes until the tomatoes have softened. Make a space in the center and add the chili powder, paprika, and cumin. Mix well and cook for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, season the beef and cook in a separate pan for 8 minutes, or until browned. Drain and add to the tomato mixture along with the wine. Stir until the wine evaporates, then add the oregano, thyme, and tomato paste. Cook for 1 minute, then stir in the chopped tomatoes and stock. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the bay leaves and cinnamon stick, partially cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove the lid and stir in the beans and corn. Cook, uncovered for 10 minutes to thicken, then add the chocolate. Taste and season if necessary. Discard the bay leaves and cinnamon stick before serving with avocado slices, sour cream, cilantro, and a good sprinkle of black pepper.

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