Monday, 3 September 2007

TGRWT#5: Meat with chocolate - are you kidding?

To try and eat meat with chocolate – that’s no easy challenge. Like – no way. But the more I thought about it, the more tempted I felt. Not only to test myself but also to shock others to see what they’d say and if they’d have anything to say at all. Well, they had. Amrita’s challenge for this months TGRWT#5 – combining meat and chocolate – has been the most intriguing one this far.

A traditional mole would have been a safer choice, I guess, because it’s widely known that it has chocolate in it and people actually eat it and like it and they actually do. No mole this time, amigos. I used an Italian recipe (Cinghiale in agrodolce) that actually called for wild boar (not a good idea to spend a pile of money if you’re mixing meat with chocolate for the first time – trust me), but used pork, I also lessened the amount of red wine vinegar. Otherwise I followed the recipe, word for word. Quite a scary afternoon.

Pork in chocolate and prune sauce
(adapted from Hans Joachim Döbbelin’s ’Italy)

100 g prunes
75 g big raisins
600 g pork chops
75 g bacon
3 tbsp olive oil
50 g bitter chocolate
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 dl red wine vinegar
3 laurel leaves

  1. Soak prunes and raisins in lukewarm water
  2. Cut the meat into slices
  3. Chop bacon and heat it with olive oil until transparent
  4. Add pork chops and fry them on both sides, then add salt and fry for additional 10 minutes on lower heat.
  5. Drain prunes and raisins and grate chocolate (for me it was easier to just chop it into little pieces)
  6. Heat sugar, laurel leaves and red wine vinegar on a pan until sugar dissolves, then add the mixture to the meat
  7. Also add raisins, prunes, chocolate and some cinnamon, then heat almost until boiling point (don’t let it boil!)
  8. Mix meat and sauce well and heat everything for another 15 minutes, not letting it boil.
  9. Serve with pasta or be a traitor like me and serve with rice instead.

I don’t imagine eating something like this with pasta. Really really really. Pasta with sweet and sour chocolate sauce? No. Rice was definitely much better.

Cooking this dish filled the kitchen with overwhelming vinegar smell – that was a bit alarming, especially for my mother. ’If I had known you were going to use it for meat, I wouldn’t have bought you this bottle of vinegar,’ she said when she came home. And also – ’If you asked me to buy meat I thought you’d be making something really good, but you made something sour.’ Okay, not a very bad start.

The dish is best described as sweet and sour chocolate meat. The taste of chocolate, most of all, is strange. It may be strangely good, but it’s still strange, strangely chocolate-y. What I actually like the most, are the prunes – delicate, soft, somehow maintaining a good balance between tastes. I’d rather eat the meat and pick out the prunes (into my mouth, of course), adding some yoghurt to my rice instead of chocolate sauce! The meat has an interesting accent to it, but isn’t flavoured by the sauce in a taste-killing way.

When my parents came home, I kept repeating, ’Really-really, you don’t have to eat this, you can just have rice with smoked chicken, really. Really.’ But strangely this time they wouldn’t listen, although I refused to reveal the components of the dish and hid myself in my room, doing all kinds of, you know, important stuff. After they’d called me for several times to go and explain the mystery, I heard the words ’this meat was good’.

I’m in awe. I’m confused. Something’s wrong in the world.
My parents liked meat in chocolate sauce.


african vanielje said...

Hi Evelin, thanks for visiting my blog. Your recipe is great and I can understand why you would want to serve it with rice. In South Africa a lot of meat dishes with a thick sauce or gravy are served with rice. But this particular rabbit dish, I felt could have used a bit of toning down with the addition of cream, which would have thickened the sauce and made it perfect for coating a flat ribbon of pasta i.e tagliatelle, or maybe some pappardelle. Originally I served it with new potatoes, but would definitely do pasta next time.

papin said...

My wife and daughter ate my chocolate with meat dish and had the left overs the next day. I was surprised. Maybe I developed a block after all the experimenting.

Using prunes to sweeten the dish sounds like a great choice. I will be trying your dish once the weather cools down a bit. And I will have it with rice.

Evelin said...

Thank you!

Papin, I do know what you mean by the block - being in the centre of all the scent and everything sometimes is enough already to get enough of a dish. I get this block when preparing something with blue cheese - it's not that I don't like it, but the feeling of blue cheese in my nose afterwards is something I can't take.

And do tell how it went after trying the dish!

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