Sunday, November 13, 2011
back at it
Like so many others, I equate fall with soup season. There's nothing better than a steaming bowl of chili, soup, or stew on a crisp Autumn evening. So, when I discovered this recipe, I was sold simply because of the word "chili." Of course, the word "chocolate" only helped matters along, because I'm a girl who goes for interesting-sounding foods. And, chocolate + chili sounded like a tantalizing equation, if you ask me. If, however, you are not like me and find yourself a bit skeptical of this unexpected combo, be not afraid. Trust me when I say that it does not taste like you accidentally dropped your Hershey bar into your pot of soup and tried to remedy the situation by giving it a clever name. Cincinnati-ians have long known that the secret to great-tasting, unique chili is chocolate. I made my first pot of Cincinnati chili about a year ago and fell in love with the union of beef, chocolate, and sweet spices (cinnamon, allspice, and the like). So, this chocolate and chicken version was not a hard sell.
In preparation for making this dish, I stopped off at Whole Foods to find myself some masa harina, the Spanish cornmeal needed for the recipe (if you are oh-so-interested in learning what makes it so special, you can read more about it here). Now, I've purchased this ingredient in the past, always in nice self-scoopable quantities at health food stores. I was hoping I would encounter a similar option at Whole Foods. Nope. I looked first at the self-scoop containers. Nothing. Then I wandered up and down the flour/baking goods aisle several times with no success. I was about 95% sure that they had to carry it. So, after a few helpful employees came to my rescue, I was handed a giant bag of the cornmeal. Bear in mind that I only needed ONE TABLESPOON of the stuff for this recipe.
"Wow! That's big!" I automatically blurted out as the Whole Foods guy proudly handed me the bag that he had discovered hidden in the Mexican section. I grimaced internally and then pondered quickly. What on earth was I going to do with all that? I had no idea. But I did know that I was not about to make yet another stop with Owen, who was already about an hour past nap-time. Grumpy babies make grumpy mamas, and this chili would have to be pretty darn good to counteract a missed nap. Needless to say, I am now the proud owner of 4.4 lb bag of masa harina. I better learn how to make homemade tortillas or something. Hmmm.
Back to the task at hand. This recipe is fabulous. Fabulous enough to make me forget pretty quickly any twinges of vegan guilt. Fabulous enough to make any chocolate-chili-doubters change their tune. And, just about fabulous enough to remedy even the roughest, nap-less day.
But, I didn't have put that last one to the test, thank goodness.