Do you go out for dinner on Valentine’s Day or stay at home?
(I usually make Mike and I a romantic meal, like our favorite Spiced Sirloin Roast for Two, but this year I’m on strike…so either he’ll end up cooking or we’ll go out. Because sometimes a girl just needs to go on strike for a night, right, ladies?)
And then there’s the question of what to make if you have kids and are making dinner at home.
Now, of course you could just blow off V-Day entirely (I know not everyone celebrates it!), but if you want to have some fun with it and you’re cooking for your family, my 30-Minute Chocolate Espresso Beef and Black Bean Chili is a fun one to try.
Most of us know about chocolate’s claim to fame as an aphrodisiac, but supposedly coffee and honey are as well (you can read more about their aphrodisiac qualities on PBS). So I guess this chili has it all going on, lol.
If the whole chocolate/coffee thing sounds like a weird combo in chili, I humbly ask you to remember Cincinnati Chili, which also boasts chocolate. Yes, you can very slightly taste the coffee in this dish (I think it perfectly complements the beef and black beans), but for me, the cocoa powder and honey only add to the overall complexity of this chili with additional layers of flavor. I also added another special ingredient here – hickory smoked sea salt – which can just as easily be replaced with smoked sweet paprika if you can’t find it.
The best thing of all though? This one-pot 30-minute meal means mom gets a little time to relax too.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1½ lbs (680 g) lean ground beef
- 2 medium-large yellow onions, chopped
- 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
- 6 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (28 oz/794 g) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup (240 ml) water
- 1½ tablespoons instant espresso powder
- 1½ tablespoons pure honey (preferably local)
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1¼ teaspoons coarse salt
- ¼ teaspoon hickory smoked sea salt (see Note)
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 (15.5 oz/439 g) cans no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
- Optional garnishes: avocado, chopped parsley or cilantro, shredded or crumbled cheese, sour cream, etc.
- Heat the oil in a 5-quart pot over high heat; once hot, add the beef, onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cover the pot and cook until the meat is browned, about 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the crushed tomatoes (with juices), water, espresso powder, honey, cocoa powder, chili powder, oregano, coarse salt, smoked salt, black pepper, and bay leaf. Cover the pot and bring up to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in the beans during the last 3 minutes of cooking.
- Serve topped with any garnishes you like.
Freezer-Friendly: This meal freezes really well! Freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months.