Without sounding overly dramatic, before I was born, I had already managed to severely **** someone off.
Okay, that did sound awfully dramatic didn't it? I should explain...
Chinese families are full of superstitions. One superstition that went around was that a pregnant woman is not supposed to visit another. When my mother was pregnant with me, she was unaware of this superstition and her mother asked that she drive her to see her sister in law who was also pregnant. Tragically, the sister in law lost the baby some time later and blamed my mother and I for it.
When I was born, healthy and (seemingly) normal, she resented it even more. She loathed me on sight and for every day after. To this day, her prejudices against me still stand. Even if I bent over backwards to be nice to her I couldn't change her opinion of me. It is very sad as prejudices often are.
Speaking of prejudices, I understand that people think that chocolate is a sweet item. Put it in savoury and suddenly people whose eyes glaze over in rapture at the sweet stuff suddenly screw up their noses at it in a savoury dish. However dark chocolate can be added to sauces and stews giving it a rich flavour without adding a great deal of sweetness. The Mexican mole sauce is a good example. It's not sweet, and you can definitely taste the chocolate and it adds a lovely depth to the sauce.
Given the fact that we had just barricaded ourselves inside for the public holiday yesterday, I thought it was time to combine chocolate and red wine, two things I had handy. I cooked it with some beef and create a stew that would warm us while the rain pounded against the windows. I used beef shin, a good cut for slow cooking, and allowed this to simmer away on the stove for two hours. There were aromatics from cinnamon, nutmeg and bay leaves as well richness from red wine. When it came to tasting it Mr NQN pondered the combination thoughtfully before launching into the bowl to retrieve piece after piece dipping in crusty bread and potatoes.
So tell me Dear Reader, have you ever had chocolate in a savoury dish and what did you think of it? And how did you spend your day yesterday?
Dark Chocolate & Red Wine Beef Stew
An Original Recipe by Not Quite Nigella
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 1.5-2 hours
4-6 tablespoons oil
1.5 kilos beef shin or beef chuck, cut into bite sized pieces
2 onions, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2/3 cup red wine
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup sultanas
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1.5-2 cups beef stock (use 2 cups if you want a runnier consistency to the liquid)
50g/1.7 ozs dark chocolate (I used Lindt's Touch of Sea Salt)
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons pine nuts
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
Step 1 - In a large pot on medium heat, add a tablespoon of the oil and brown the beef in three batches. Set aside. Reduce the heat to low and saute the onions, carrot, celery and garlic until soft but and fragrant, about 5-8 minutes.
Step 2 - Turn the heat up to medium again and add the beef back into the pot. Add the red wine and red wine vinegar and cook it for 5 minutes to evaporate the alcohol. Add the sultanas, bay leaves, cinnamon, nutmeg and beef stock and cook in low to medium heat with the lid on for 1.5 hours.
Step 3 - When 1.5 hours is up, melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave. Add one tablespoon of the stew liquid to the chocolate and then stir and then add another 3-4 tablespoons until the chocolate has incorporated the liquid well without seizing. Add the chocolate to the stew liquid and simmer for another 30 minutes and season with the salt and pepper to taste. Scatter pine nuts on top and chopped parsley. Serve with potatoes.