Who doesn’t love a bit of chilli? Beef chilli, bean chilli, veg chilli – I just can’t resist the warm hug of chilli. Something so simple that packs a whack of flavour is always a sure fire hit with me, and, like a curry, gets better the second day too which makes for awesome left overs and gives you extra bang for your cooking buck!
Like most of us, my first foray into chilli was my mum’s Chilli Con Carne made with a Crosse and Blackwell packet mix. Who doesn’t remember the advert for it on TV as a kid in England… “Chilli Con What?” “Chilli Con Carne” (click here to relive the ad!) From that I have had many many attempts at finding my own perfect Chilli recipe that doesn’t involve a packet mix! Well, let me introduce you to by Cha Cha Cha Chilli! And it’s all in the name…
Cha – For Chapotle
Cha – For Chocolate
Cha – For Chilli
I’m not just a pretty face you know, there is something going on up there too!
Chapotle is a type of mexican chilli pepper that is known more for its smokey, subtle spice than some of its fiery counterparts. Fresh chilli’s other than the ubiquitous birds eye or jalepeno are pretty hard to come by still in Ireland unless you grow them or have access to a speciliast grower such as The Irish Chilli Farm. The utterly wonderful Picado Mexican in Dublin has a wonderful online shop (www.mymexicanshop.ie) where you can purchase an array of dried and tinned chilli’s that are 100% authentic and imported direct from Mexico! Dried chillies are a great option if you don’t use non-supermarket standard chilli’s often as they last for ages if stored properly.
Chocolate in food is something I will be exploring more in the following month up until Valentine’s Day. In County Cork we are really fortunate to have a number of chocolate makers and chocolatiers. One such artisan chocolatier is a local food hero of mine, Allison Roberts of the amazing Clonakilty Chocolate. Allison is the owner of Ireland’s very first bean-to-bar chocolate factory. She sources her beans directly from a fairtrade chocolate farming community in Ghana, roasts and processes the beans to make the liquid chocolate – a process that can take weeks. As much of the work as possible is done by hand, with certain machines neccesary for the process to happen. In addition to this, much of the chocolate is sugar free using natural plant sugar substitutes packaged in 100% compostable materials. The chocolate is rich and luxurious – typically 70-80% cocoa and is not designed for rapid eating. This chocolate lends itself perfectly to being used as a cooking ingredient in savoury or sweet dishes alike. And in South America cocoa is treated in that exact way therefore putting chocolate into food is not actually a new idea to them, but to us in this part of the world it is something of a novelty, and as such it can be tricky to know how to use it in savoury cooking. I like to think of chocolate as the ultimate seasoning, adding deep rich base notes to dishes and giving them a lovely velvety and seductive texture! Well, Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, so why not give cooking with chocolate a go?!
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