Sunday 18 November 2018

Clodagh McKenna: Fiery beef chilli with a Caribbean twist and a side of cheesy scones

This week our chef Clodagh McKenna prepares a new take on the Mexican staple – just add dark chocolate

Chocolate beef chilli
Chocolate beef chilli
Chocolate beef chilli

Clodagh McKenna

I discovered an amazing chocolate recently called Islands. It's made by Wilf Marriott, who is just 24, using the cocoa from his family estates on St Vincent and the Grenadines islands in the Caribbean. They grow the cocoa on their own land and transform it into chocolate there.

This is unique because most chocolate companies either buy in ready-made chocolate to re-mould as their own brand or they buy cocoa at relatively low prices, often from Africa, and create chocolate from those beans. These beans have all been mixed up so you lose the origin and also the varieties of beans, which makes it difficult to control the flavours.

Islands Chocolate's cacao is grown from seed in a nursery so its farmers know exactly what variety of bean they are planting. The company supports more than 100 local farmers by giving them free plants and advice, as it is vital that the industry is sustainable. It is the only chocolate company in the world that grows cocoa on its own land on one island and transforms it into chocolate on that same island.

Dark, good-quality chocolate slow-cooked with beef is brilliant. It might seem a bit odd, but it's a classic combination in French and Mexican cooking. The chocolate adds a fantastic silky texture and deep notes of cocoa. There are quite a few ingredients in this dish but once you have them all in the pot, you just let it simmer away. I always double-up the quantities when I am making it and freeze half. The flavours get better over time - you can make it a couple of days ahead.Soak up the juices with these cheesy fiery scones and serve with a spoonful of natural yoghurt.

DARK, good-quality chocolate slow-cooked with beef is brilliant. It might seem a bit odd, but it's a classic combination in French and Mexican cooking. The chocolate adds a fantastic silky texture and deep notes of cocoa. There are quite a few ingredients in this dish but once you have them all in the pot, you just let it simmer away. I always double-up the quantities when I am making it and freeze half. The flavours get better over time - you can make it a couple of days ahead.

Soak up the juices with these cheesy fiery scones and serve with a spoonful of natural yoghurt.

Chocolate beef chilli

Serves: 6

Preparation time: 15 mins

Cooking time: 2 hours 15 mins

Serve with: De Luze, Pauillac 2013, Bordeaux Claret

Ingredients

50g salted butter

300g minced beef

1 small white onion or shallot

1 inch fresh ginger

3 garlic cloves

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground cinnamon

3 small dried chillies, chopped

100g smoked bacon lardons

100g chorizo, cut into small pieces

150ml red wine

1 x 400g tin cherry tomatoes

300ml water

1 tbsp brown sugar

2 tsp fresh or dried oregano

2 bay leaves

1 tbsp tomato ketchup

50g dark chocolate, grated

400g kidney beans

For the jalapeño & cheese scones

225g white plain flour

1 tbsp baking powder

Pinch of sea salt

50g salted butter, chilled and cubed

125g Dubliner cheese, grated

2 fresh jalapeño chillies

125ml-150ml milk

Method

1. Place a casserole dish over a medium heat. Add 25g of butter, stir in the minced beef and cook until browned. Remove the browned minced beef to a plate.

2. Add the rest of the butter to the casserole dish and stir in the onion, fresh ginger and garlic. Allow to cook for two minutes then stir in the ground cumin, cinnamon and dried chilli and cook for another minute. Stir in the bacon lardons and chorizo, and cook while stirring for three minutes to get them lovely and crispy.

3. Return the browned minced beef to the dish and stir well. Pour in the wine, stir and allow to cook for another two minutes. Then add the cherry tomatoes, water, brown sugar, oregano, bay leaves and ketchup. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and stir well. Cover and allow to cook for two hours on a low heat.

4. To make the jalapeño and cheese scones, sieve the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Rub the butter into the flour mixture using your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

5. Stir in half of the grated cheese, followed by half the finely chopped jalapeño chillies. Gradually pour in the milk and use a fork to make a soft dough. You could also use buttermilk if you wish.

6. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to a thickness of 1cm. Cut into six triangles and place on a floured baking tray. Sprinkle the remaining cheese and jalapeños on top.

7. Bake in a preheated oven at 200C or gas mark 6 for 15 minutes. Then transfer to a cooling rack for 10 minutes.

8. Remove the lid of the chilli and stir in the dark chocolate and kidney beans. Leave to simmer for another 15 minutes and then serve with the jalapeño and cheese scones.

Irish Independent

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