This recipe created itself one spring after I had cooked a big spiral ham for Easter. I had this huge soup bone and we were sick of eating the ham on its own. Being a big fan of “Cook Once, Eat for a Week,” I sat down and started considering how I could convert these leftovers into something interesting.
I had in my pantry a few things that I thought would work well with left over ham or pork: a jar of mole, chipotle chiles in adobo, a bag of pinto beans. and some onions, carrots, and celery (standards I always have on hand for just this sort of need). I added to this a couple of cans of diced tomatoes, and the chili was really starting to take shape.
However, it needed something to both give it that thick, rich texture of a great chili as well as mitigate some of the heat that had been generated by using an entire small can of chiles in adobo sauce. When my mind went to heat, sweet, and rich, I thought of the ancient practice of making Xocolatl (shoh-koh-lah-till), the Mayan original HOT CHOCOLATE, from where we get mole (the chocolate, nuts, chiles, honey, and spices are central to the recipe). I pulled out my jar of cocoa and my jug of local honey and started to play with that combination. Eventually, this is the recipe I settled on (give or take).
This enormous pot of chili made after using the ham for dinner and several lunches is a lifesaver. It also freezes well and shapes up into an interesting meal topped with leftover nacho chips and grated queso or cheddar, sour cream, and minced cilantro.
Serve a salad on the side and you have a complete dish fit for a proper dinner.
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Chocolate Chipotle Chili Recipe
(note: you can cut this recipe in half)
In advance, prepare:
2lbs of dried pinto or cannellini or black beans (or a combination, but keep separated until cooked). Soak overnight, then simmer in water for 35-40 minutes with bay leaves and a couple of cloves of garlic (NO SALT). Drain and set aside.
2 TB olive oil (not extra virgin)
1lbs of carrots or parsnips, peeled and chopped into 1/2” chunks
1 large onion, chopped into 1” pieces
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
5 ribs of celery, chopped into 1/2” slices
2 large green or red peppers, cleaned and chopped into 1” pieces
1 8.25 oz jar of mole (Dona brand), softened in a cup of stock or water
1 7.5 oz can of chiles in Adobo sauce; chop chiles in tiny pieces
1 ham bone with meat still on it
10-12 cups of beef or vegetable broth
2 – 24oz cans of diced tomatoes
1.5 lbs of leftover ham, chopped into 1/2” pieces
2 TB oregano
3 TB ground cumin
1 TB ground coriander
2 TB chili powder
½ – 1 cup of cocoa powder (to taste; start with ½ cup and go from there)
¼ – 1/3 cup of honey or Agave syrup (OPTIONAL – to taste and only as needed; I’ve made this chili without it)
Salt and black pepper to taste
Optional: broken corn chips, minced cilantro, shredded queso or cheddar, and sour cream
Heat olive oil in a large heavy bottomed stock pot. Sauté carrots, onion, and garlic until there is some color and they are a bit caramelized.
Add the celery and green pepper, and stir.
Add all the mole (be sure to dissolve it in hot water first, see my note below), and the chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (you can always cut back on the amount and freeze it for another use). Add chopped ham. Stir. Add cumin, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste.
Add ham bone.
Stir well, keeping the pot somewhat hot on the bottom but don’t allow to burn.
Pour in stock and canned tomatoes, scraping up any bits on the bottom and making sure that bone is covered with liquid.
Cover and simmer 10 minutes until vegetables are softened. Add beans; ensure that there is enough liquid to cover (you may need to add more stock).
Simmer another 20-30 minutes. Remove the bone and cut off any remaining meat to add back to the chili.
Sprinkle in the cocoa and stir well. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. See if it is thick enough (you get to decide how thick you want your chili). If not add, ¼ cup more cocoa at a time. Repeat if needed.
Mole is incredibly thick. From experience I can tell you that nobody likes big chunks of mole in their mouth. Be sure to dissolve your mole in some of the hot stock beforehand. It will make it that much easier to incorporate it into the chili.
Add ¼ cup honey IF NEEDED OR DESIRED TO CUT HEAT. Stir well, taste (if still too spicy, add remaining honey or adjust to your taste).
Serve with corn chips, shredded cheese, sour cream, and minced cilantro if desired. Although this chili improves if refrigerated and reheated, you can dig in now.
*to make inexpensive and healthy vegetable broth, freeze the peels and ends of your carrots, celery, onions, and parsley ends as you prep for other recipes. When you have a gallon-size bag, full dump into a large pot and cover by about 5-6 inches of water. Add 3-4 bay leaves, about 3 TB salt, 1 TB black peppercorns, and any available herbs, like parsley, oregano, rosemary, and thyme. Simmer for 1-2 hours. Drain and either save in freezer bags and freeze, or use in your favorite dish, soup, or sauce. If you have a large composter, you can put the remaining vegetable matter in one; the small amount of salt in it should not be a big deal for the health of your compost.