Wednesday, 25 April 2012

WSC Chocolate Nut Roast with Chocolate Gravy

Yes you read the title correctly!  Chocolate for dinner!  Chocolate in a savoury nut roast.  Chocolate in a gravy!  You see, recently I have been giving some thought to combining Chocolate and Cheese.  Blame Choclette and her We Should Cocoa challenge!  I shunned the idea of a regular chocolate cheesecake and let my mind spin with some whacky whimsy.  Finally I made an interesting Mexican-style chocolate nut roast with a chocolate and red wine gravy.  It was a crazy idea but it worked.

It took some time to arrive at the nut roast, even though I had originally considered it for February's We Should Cocoa Challenge.  I had put white chocolate in a salad for the savoury chocolate challenge.  At first I thought I would bake a chocolate muffins with goats cheese and plum but the plums died and the moment passed.  We had enough cake about.  I turned to savoury ideas.  I considered a chocolate lentil spag bol or a chocolate lentil cobbler with cheese dumplings or even a quesadilla with tofu, chocolate sauce and cheese (like these).

In fact when I searched for chocolate and cheese recipes online, I found some inspiring recipes:
I might have made one of these recipes had I the time to go grocery shopping.  Instead at the eleventh hour,  I found myself with leftover haggis, cooked rice and a bag of ground almonds.  Nut roast seemed the easy option.  And it had to be Mexican.

You see, combining chocolate and cheese in a savoury recipe is quite a challenge.  Cheese is yellow, bright and cheerful.  Chocolate is dark, brooding and melancholy.  Both are strong flavours.  They find it hard to get along without one dominating.  Yet they work well as opposing forces to provide contrast in a meal.  The Mexicans seem to have worked this out with their moles and chilli non carnes topped with cheese.  They did discover chocolate after all, so it stands to reason they know what to do with it!

Nut roasts are easy for me. A regular comfort food.  Getting the mix of savoury flavours and chocolate right is more of a challenge. Take away the sugar and chocolate has a bitter flavour.  It can easily overwhelm a meal if not balanced carefully with other flavours.  I used this mole recipe for some inspiration.  I found it odd that the nut roast actually smelt of chocolate but the taste and texture was more cheesy.  The haggis provided a substantial - even a "meaty" - base and the corn gave some welcome sweet contrast.  The nut roast was tasty but not as spicy as I expected - next time I might add more spices.

Likewise I am comfortable with making gravy from scratch but not with adding chocolate.  I stumbled upon the idea of adding red wine which seemed just right.  A wine reduction meant I needed very little flour to thicken it and the gravy had a robust flavour to complement the chocolate.  It was a very rich gravy but I loved how it looked like melted chocolate.  It tasted so good that I was tempted to just stand at the stove and eat it by the spoonful before I even served dinner!

I served the nut roast and gravy with roasted pumpkin and steamed brussels sprouts.  It was a great combination.  The sweetness of the pumpkin was delicious with the intense chocolate flavours.  E seemed to enjoy it but later told me it was too intense and chocolatey.  I guessed that this might be because he didn't have as many vegetables on his plate.

Lastly a note about making this dinner.  It was done while I tried to get Sylvia to eat her dinner, so there were frequent distractions and I probably took longer than needed.  It wasn't helped by the oven going off when I started cooking the nut roast so my cooking time is probably not quite reliable (especially as my oven isn't terribly powerful).  Finally, I have finished writing up this post on a rainy ANZAC Day with Sylvia jumping all over me - she tells me I am a trampoline.  However I can forgive a little girl who not only demands I buy her brussels sprouts but asks for more when she finishes those I have served her!

Would I do chocolate nut roast for dinner again?  Yes.  As an everyday meal?  Probably not.  I think this would be great as a celebration dish because it is so rich.  It would work well as a dinner party dish because it would surprise and be a talking point. 

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: Chow Mein - revisited on ANZAC Day
This time two years ago: Fruits of Autumn: figs, rhubarb and walnuts
This time three years ago: Tempting prune cake
This time four years ago: ANZAC Day and the Biscuit Police

Haggis and cheese mole nut roast with chocolate and red wine gravy
An original Green Gourmet Giraffe recipe
serves 4-6

1 tsp olive oil
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
kernels of 1 corn cob
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp chilli paste
2 tbsp tomato paste
6 tbsp (90ml) water
20g of dark chocolate (I used Lindt 85% cocoa solids), chopped
half a loaf of vegetarian haggis, crumbled
100g cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste

Heat oil in a large frypan and fry celery over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until celery is soft.  Add corn and fry another 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how many distractions you have!  Stir in garlic for about a minutes and then stir in cumin, smoked paprika and cinnamon for another minute or until fragrant.

Gently stir in chilli paste, tomato paste and water.  The mixture should be quite spicy because it loses some of the bite once you add the other ingredients.  Turn off the heat and stir in chocolate until it is melted.  Transfer corn mixture to a mixing bowl and mix in the remaining ingredients.

Spoon into a lined and greased loaf tin (I used a silicone one so I didn't grease or line) and smooth down with the back of a spoon.  Bake at 180 C for between 40 - 60 minutes until dried and slightly browned on top.

Chocolate and Red Wine Gravy

1 red onion, finely chopped
1 knob butter (a scant dessertspoon)
1 tbsp wholemeal plain flour
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup red wine
1 cup water
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp stock powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp honey
20g of dark chocolate (I used Lindt 85% cocoa solids), chopped

Cook the onion in melted butter on a frypan for about 20 to 30 minutes over low to medium heat until the onion is soft and wilted with some charred edges.  Scatter the flour, smoked paprika and cinnamon over the onions and cook for a minute or two until it is quite dry and brown.

Add red wine, water, Worcestershire sauce, stock powder, salt and honey.  Check taste and adjust flavours as necessary (remember you will add some bitter chocolate so it needs to be just slightly too sweet and salty).  Bring to the boil and gently simmer for about 20 minutes or until it is syrupy.

Mix in chocolate until melted.  Add a little extra water if it gets too thick.  I found I needed to do this after leaving to sit for a while before serving.  Serve hot over nut roast.

On the Stereo:
Music for Fassbinder Films: Peer Raben

24 comments:

  1. Wow you are so inventive. Love this idea though. I have a yummy recipe for bean mole which uses cocoa powder, so imagine this is quite similar in taste.

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    1. Thanks Katie - you are right that it sounds odd but actually isn't that odd if you think about dishes like mole

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  2. I like how you think- this sounds pretty good to me. Wasn't the weather dire? Sylvia is way better than me as a child - I wouldn't touch most veges, let alone brussels sprouts.

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    1. Thanks cakelaw - the weather was shocking last week - has been nice to see the sun this weekend. And I liked some veg when I was little but not brussels sprouts - in fact I still find it a mystery that she love sprouts but wont touch pumpkin

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  3. Chocolate for dinner sounds pretty brilliant to me! What a great dish...I imagine the 85% cocoa would pair wonderfully with the other flavours. The only challenge would be not eating too much whilst cooking...

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    1. Thanks Kari - I find that I eat more when cooking these experimental dishes because I am constantly checking flavours but when I know a dish really well I can usually leave it well alone (unless there is a lot of melted chocolate involved - oops must be why I was quite content to do a lot of tasting here)

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  4. I'm actually pretty sure I have exactly ONE CUP of red wine left in the bottle that's now been sitting on my table for a week. Fate or coincidence? No matter. This gravy is happening.

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    1. Thanks Joanne - one cup of red wine! you must have known you would need it for greater things than drinking by the glass! hope it makes you some yummy gravy!

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  5. This has got to be the most outrageous entry so far. I love it. It makes my entry look really safe :p

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    1. Thanks Sniff and Snort - not at all - your cake looks amazing - and would be far more of a challenge for me than a nut roast!

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  6. That sauce looks so divine! I love mole sauce so I like this idea (and really, there is not that much chocolate in the sauce :)

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    1. Thanks Lorraine - once you understand mole I think it is a good way into savoury cooking with chocolate - and yes a little chocolate goes a long way

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  7. Adding vegetarian haggis to a nut roast is clever! My favourite one is an old Cranks recipe with a layer of cheese through the middle.

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    1. Thanks Foodycat - I don't tend to do nut roast with layers in the middle - always admire them but I think I worry they will fall apart - but cheese in the middle sounds yummy and would have been great here

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  8. Fascinating idea - I love the sound of this combination. I don't think I've often seen haggis and chocolate together in a single recipe.

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    1. Thanks Phil - yeah I don't think haggis and chocolate are a common combination :-) and I probably wouldn't have thought of it - just serendipity

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  9. I'm very impressed at your adventurous chocolate and cheese recipe - mine is very tame in comparison! I love the look of that rich gravy - delicious!

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    1. Thanks Caroline - it was adventurous in one way but also convenient in another - we needed dinner and we didn't need more cake :-) your scones looked lovely

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  10. Johanna, I am SO IN it's not even funny. You know I prefer straight chocolate to chocolate desserts, but I am so interested in chocolate in savoury food it's not even funny. Yay!

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    1. Thanks Hannah! I am surprised! Have you cooked savoury meals with chocolate - would be a great way to go through your chocolate stash - just a joke - I know they are too good for dinner but some of those spicy chocolate you have would be interesting in savoury food.

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  11. I already know I will love this! And believe it or not, I have half a loaf of that haggis in my freezer (well, my ACD adaptation--which is a bit different from your original recipe, but still tasty!). Fabulous.

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    1. Thanks Ricki - I am so impressed that you have haggis in your freezer - hope you enjoyed it (and might even blog it as would love to see how you ACD it). Am sure chocolate for dinner would work for you!

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  12. I'm so glad you didn't follow one of the recipes already out there Johanna, this is all your very own and sounds fantastic. As a fellow nut roast fan, I'm feeling the need for a dinner party coming on so I can try it out. Your red wine sauce does indeed look like melted chocolate and I think I'd be joining you with a spoon in the kitchen. Thanks ever so much for sharing this fabulous dish with WSC. And it's great that Sylvia is a brussel sprout fan.

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  13. Thanks Choclette - a pleasure - I knew you would appreciate this one - and I am very pleased to have finally tried this, thanks to a little inspiration from WSC!!!

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