With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, we’ve all got chocolate lust. From ganaches to truffles, brownies to bon-bons, chocolate is everywhere you look. Good news is chocolate, especially dark chocolate, has gotten kudos for its intrinsic health benefits as an antioxidant and for it's ability to lower blood pressure. So how can we add a little more chocolate goodness into our food without falling victim to dessert overload? One way is to incorporate chocolate into savory dishes, which can give the flavor of your meal unique depth and richness. Below are five innovative ways to utilize the cocoa bean in the kitchen.
1. In Sauces: One of the most famous chocolate-based sauces in traditional Mexican and Latin American cooking is mole sauce. Mole, which means “concoction”, incorporates chocolate with a varying mix of chili peppers, spices, tomatoes, dried fruit, and even ground nuts. It is typically served over chicken, turkey, or enchiladas with a side of rice.
2. To Make Soup: Chocolate soup you say? That’s right, who says all soups have to involve chicken stock? Okay so this may not be savory per se (the base would be milk in this recipe) but it’s a fun way to serve chocolate either for dessert or to disguise it as a savory dish by namesake.
3. As A Marinade: Some fantastic marinades involve adding a bit of cocoa or unsweetened cocoa in the mix, especially when combined with chipotle peppers or any recipe with a southwestern or Latin focus. Chocolate will add richness and a sweetness that can highlight new flavors in your meat or poultry dish. Take a look at this fabulous Chile and chocolate-based Steak Marinade for some inspiration.
4. In a Mousse:
I know what your thinking, how is chocolate mousse a savory dish? Well, by itself it’s not, but if you combine chocolate with an additional savory element, it can result in a sweet and savory combo that is palate pleasing. In fact, the original meaning of “mousse” in French is “froth” or “foam” which can be served hot or cold.
5. As a Crust/Rub for Seared Meats or Fish: Similar to a marinade, adding cocoa powder to a dry or wet rub (a spice or herb mixture that is added to the surface of a meat before cooking) can transform many savory dishes into more adventurous and flavorful creations. Use cocoa-based rubs on red meats like pork or lamb, because they can handle the complex flavor of the chocolate without being overpowered.
Try out this tempting Cocoa and Mint Rubbed Lamb to see for yourself!