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Chocolate Chip Chili

I've always made chili with ground meat and added a dash of cocoa to bolster. This time, I wanted to play a little, to achieve something more along the lines of a dark, spicy-sauced cassoulet: that's to say, together with the beans, I use beef, cut into fairly small chunks, and fiery Spanish sausages. In place of the cocoa there is a sprinkling of dark, dark chocolate chips, which adds real depth and a velvety savoriness. This chili is not for light eaters, but something spicy and substantial that is just what you need to soak up seasonal excess.

Under normal conditions, I'd also dollop out an unchiled guacamole with this, but I worry about having avocados sitting around going grungy, so only make this if you know it won't be hanging around: simply mash 3 ripe avocados with 3 finely chopped scallions and add the juice of a lime or two and some salt to taste, stir in 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro, spoon into two or three bowls, and sprinkle a little extra cilantro over.


10 (or 5 linked pairs) chorizo sausages (not the salami sort), approx. 1 1/4 lbs
3 1/4 lb boneless beef shank, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
3 onions (about 1 lb), peeled
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 fresh long red chile, seeded
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Seeds from 3 cardamom pods
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup tomato ketchup
4 x 15 oz cans red kidney beans, drained
3 x 14 oz cans diced tomatoes
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup water (swished out in one of the diced tomato cans)


-Preheat the oven to 300 F.

-Finely chop, or process the onion, garlic and chile.

-Heat the oil in a large ovenproof pan (with a lid) or cast-iron or enameled Dutch oven and fry the onion, garlic and chile until soft, on low for about 10 minutes, then add the cardamom sees, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and red pepper flakes.

-Stir the oniony spiced mixture together and then add the chorizo, sliced into 1/4-in. coins, letting them ooze their paprika-orange oil.

-Drop in the cubes of beef, turning them in the pan with the chorizo and onion mix, to brown the meat.

-Stir in the tomato paste, ketchup, drained kidney beans and diced tomatoes. Add the water and bring the chili to a boil.

-Once it's started bubbling, sprinkle the chocolate ships over the chili and give it a good stir. Put on the lid and transfer to the oven.

-Cook at this low heat for 3 hours. Once cooked it is best left overnight to improve the flavor.

Serves 12

From Nigella Christmas by Nigella Lawson. Photographs by Lis Parsons. Copyright © 2008, 2009 Nigella Lawson. Photographs Copyright © 2008, 2009 Lis Parsons. Published by Hyperion. All Rights Reserved.

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Nigella Lawson