By Darryl Alder
Nov 05, 2013

Boy Scout Cooking: Chocolate Lamb Chili

Darryl Alder, Director of Support Services for the Utah National Parks Council, shared this recipe at our Halloween luncheon. Though this was cooked in a slow cooker, you can make this in camp in a Dutch Oven for a hearty fall dinner or lunch.


Utah National Parks Council Staff all dress up for Halloween

Summary: Lamb gives this chili a slightly gamy richness. The chocolate smooths the sauce and moves the flavor profile closer to that of a Mexican mole. The ingredient list isn’t as daunting as you might think: Everything ends up in the slow-cooker, which should have at least a 5 1/2 quart capacity.

Serve with rice or triangles of warm pita bread.

MAKE AHEAD: The chili needs to cook for 4 to 5 hours on HIGH or 8 to 9 hours on LOW. It can be refrigerated for up to 4 days. 

Makes 11 1/2 cups (8 servings)

• 2 tablespoons chili powder
• 1 tablespoon ground coriander
• 2 teaspoons ground cumin
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1 teaspoon dried thyme
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
• 2 tablespoons flour
• 3 pounds boneless leg of lamb, trimmed of visible fat and silver skin, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces
• Sea salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 2 large yellow onions, diced
• 1 medium eggplant, peeled, then cut into 1/2-inch squares
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 chipotles in adobo, finely chopped, plus 1 tablespoon adobo
• 1 1/2 cups no-salt-added beef broth
• 28 ounces canned, no-salt-added diced tomatoes plus their juices, preferably not fire-roasted
• 30 to 31 ounces canned, no-salt-added white kidney beans or cannellini (may substitute navy beans)
• 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

Combine the chili powder, ground coriander, ground cumin, dried oregano, dried thyme, ground cardamom and flour in a small bowl.

Season the lamb with salt and pepper to taste.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in three or four batches, brown the lamb pieces,transferring them to the slow-cooker as they are done.

Add the onions and eggplant to the skillet, stirring to coat. Cook for about 4 minutes, until lightly browned, then add the garlic and chipotles; cook for about 30 seconds, then stir in the adobo and the chili powder-spice mixture. Cook for about 1 minute, then stir in the broth and tomatoes. Cook, stirring a few times, for about 5 minutes.

Transfer to the slow-cooker. Cover and cook for 4 to 5 hours on HIGH (or 8 to 9 hours on LOW). The lamb should be falling apart. Stir in the beans; cover and cook just until they have warmed through.
Just before serving, add the chocolate and cilantro, stirring until the chocolate melts.

I wish I had known the secret ingredient, because I would have loved to try it. Who doesn’t like chocolate?

Recipe Source:

Adapted from “Cooking Slow: Recipes for Slowing Down and Cooking More,” by Andrew Schloss (Chronicle, 2013).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick for The Washington Post.
E-mail the Food Section with recipe questions.
Darryl Alder, October 31, 2013

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