Chocolate as a Savoury Ingredient

We all love a bit of chocolate at the end of the meal, but there’s no need to limit chocolate to desserts only, the flavour of cocoa powder or a single origin chocolate bar can be rich and more bitter than sweet.

Following on from How to use cocoa nibs in the kitchen we know Chocolate has been a common ingredient in savoury cooking in certain parts of Europe and South America for thousands of years.

Chocolate is and should be one of the most welcome ingredients in any kitchen professional or home. For me It's impossible not to feel a sense of pride when I find it listed in the ingredients of a recipe.

Melted chopped, flaked, moulded, piped or poured on a savoury dish like duck. from the first sight of the high gloss or the sharp sound when you snap it to the bursts of aromas when the test piece hits your tongue (you have to test it). Heaven But people still get intimidated by chocolate especially tempering and how to make ganache. Even professional chefs sometimes avoid using it Which is a real shame, I want to help give all home cooks-chefs that same feeling of pleasure I get when chocolate is placed centre stage That's what this is all about. the sublime joy that is cooking with chocolate.

The intense flavour of chocolate makes an excellent addition to a huge variety of meat dishes, from beef, Lamb, pork, chicken and the classic game. But chocolate can work just as well with earthy vegetables, like mushrooms and aubergine.

But here is the key "When used in small amounts", chocolate can add a depth of flavour and complexity to lots of dishes - even savoury ones! treat the cocoa powder like a Bouquet garni.

Using Chocolate in savoury

Don’t be frightened to use chocolate in savoury recipes. The flavour of chocolate shouldn’t be detected in dishes and helps with the consistency of the sauce more than the flavour. Chocolate used in any stewed meat dish should give a silky texture with slight tart overtones. The sweetness of the chocolate shouldn’t be very noticeable. try adding a dash of chocolate the next time you make chilli con carne or spaghetti bolognaise. 

Chocolate and Spice

Mexico has a very famous dish called mole (pronounced mo-lay), which is a turkey tomato, chilli and chocolate sauce that's used as the basis for several meat and vegetable dishes (including enchiladas). In Italy chocolate is used with wild boar and hare dishes; chocolate also works perfectly game dishes. try making a sauce to that’s made with red wine, chocolate and chillies? This sauce will go well with red meats such as venison, pork and wild boar.

Chocolate and chilli make a fantastic combination in the kitchen. Chocolate and chilli is the oldest culinary chocolate combination in the world.

The Olmec of Central America first enjoyed chocolate as a spicy drink, made with chillies.

I usually add a little cocoa powder to my batters and crusts to add taste and colour and often make BBQ rubs with it I think Chocolate can be better than a Bouquet garni in some instances.

Chocolate Dishes over the World

The following countries all enjoy using chocolate in savoury dishes

France – with a red wine sauce

Spain – with meaty dishes such as calf's tongue and lobster

Italy – to flavour pasta and sweet-and-sour sauce, or in a rabbit stew

South Africa – used in game dishes such as pigeon and guinea fowl or in a sauce served with beef fillet

Mexico – in the sauce mole (pronounced molay). When served with turkey, it makes one of the most respected ceremonial dishes in Mexico

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