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Savory Dish with Chocolate from Catalunya

Mar i Muntanya ~ photo by K.Diggs

This Catalonian dish pairing chicken with shrimp is made unbearably luscious with the addition of deep dark chocolate. It is a ravishing combination of the savory and the bittersweet  coming together in a gustatory adagio of  harmonious flavors that slowly release their exquisite surprise bite after bite.  This dish is finished off with a paste composed of garlic, parsley, ground almonds, olive oil, and chocolate.  (It’s a simple version of the much more complicated molé sauce from Mexico.)

Before I reveal to you my recipe, I must give credit to Andrew Coleman, the author of  “Catalan Cuisine”. In this book, Coleman gives three versions of this Iberian dish, the first of which contains chocolate. Reading the history of Mar i Muntanya (which means Sea & Mountain) inspired me to create the following version which I have been cooking for friends and family for years.  Hope you will delight in it too!

Benefits of  theobroma cacao:

  • an excellent antioxidant, and rates high on the ORAC scale.
    (ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity.  It is a method of measuring antioxidant values in foods.)
  • helps to release endorphins
  • contains magnesium , is an alkaline mineral which benefits the heart and absorption of calcium
  • elevates your mood due to  phenylethylamine (EPA) or the “love chemical”. Although more research needs to be done on EPA in chocolate, this chemical it is associated with feelings of attraction, excitement, and euphoria.

Ingredients:
Serves 4 – 6

4 pieces chicken thighs, bone in
4 pieces chicken drumsticks, bone in
1 lb. shrimp, with shells
1 large onion, minced
1 cup dry white wine
2 bay leaves
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Celtic sea salt, to taste

For the “molé” or paste:
5 – 6 cloves garlic, rough chopped
1 bunch parsley, leaves only
20 almonds, ground in a spice grinder or processor
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate  *(7o% or more cacao)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of Celtic sea salt

*Please read my last posting regarding the quality of chocolates and cacao content.

There are several steps to cooking this dish, but well worth the effort.  Pour yourself a nice glass of wine or brew a pot of tea, relax and enjoy the process.  And just to make it easier, there are images below to give you  visual stimulus.

sauté onions with olive oil

brown chicken pieces

make a shrimp stock

grind garlic & parsley

chop the dark chocolate

grind into a paste

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a swig of wine (or tea), peel and devein the shrimp and save the shells.In a large pot, sauté the minced onion with olive oil on medium heat.  While the onion is  sautéing, heat up a cast iron pan and brown the chicken pieces  for about 2 minutes on each side and season with a little salt and pepper.  Place browned chicken on top of the onion.
(If you want to be an exceptional cook, make a quick shrimp stock that will add depth of flavor to your dish.  Simply place the shells in a pan with some olive oil and sauté for a minute to release the flavor, add in about 1/2 cup of white wine and 2 cups water.  Simmer for 20 minutes, strain and add to the onion and chicken in the pot).

The liquid should just cover the chicken pieces  1/2 way up.  Pour in the wine and more water if necessary .  Bring to a low simmer and add in the bay leaves plus a few pinches of salt.  Cover loosely with a lid and cook for about 45 – 50 minutes  until the chicken pieces are tender.  During this time, prepare the
molé by placing the garlic and parsley in a mortar and pestle.  Grind to a paste, adding in the ground almonds towards the end. (You can also use a food processor here, but it’s so much more sensual using a mortar & pestle!) After the paste is formed, stir in the chopped chocolate pieces.  Set aside.

When the chicken is tender, add in the peeled shrimp and allow to cook through, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the paste or “molé”.

add the chocolate/almond/parsley/garlic paste into the pot

Mix gently in and be prepared for the heady fragrance that will be released into your kitchen!  Check for seasoning; add more salt & pepper if needed.
Allow to simmer for another 5 minutes and serve immediately.  Great served with saffron scented rice.

Theobroma literally means “food of the Gods” in Greek.  I believe that when you taste this dish, it will bring you a few steps closer to the divine!

 

Download a copy of this recipe for your personal file.

For love of food and friends and theobroma cacao,

Karen

References:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20713904
http://www.chocolate.org
“Catalan Cuisine” by Andrew Coleman

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