Chili Con Cocoa

Photo by Beth Segal

Cocoa is a stealthy player in this classic dish. It silkens the sauce and provides a pleasantly earthy flavor. This is especially welcome if you make the vegetarian version, without ground turkey. If you can get it, the cocoa-based Brown Dog Riba-Riba Rub from Mom’s Gourmet in Novelty, Ohio ( is an excellent substitute for the chili powder and oregano. Add the chipotle separately.

Chili Con Cocoa

  • 1 pound ground turkey (optional)
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped small
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 TBS chili powder
  • 1 pinch oregano
  • 2 TBS cocoa
  • 1 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced to 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn
  • Salt and pepper as desired

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add turkey, if using, and sauté until pinkness is gone. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent. Add chili powder, cocoa and chipotle powder and stir to blend.

Add all vegetables and simmer 30 minutes or until squash is cooked through. Serve immediately or the next day. Serves 4-6.

Gary: For chili, think red wines, especially those with plush flavors and a hint of earth. From Spain, consider Tempranillo-based Rioja or Ribera del Duero, or Garnacha and Monastrell. New-world Pinot Noir, with its fruit, earthiness and moderate tannins and acid, also would be a pleasant pairing. If you like fuller-bodied red wines, try a Malbec, Shiraz/Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon.

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