Hearty Slow Cooker Three Bean Stew with Cocoa (Recipe)
This slow-cooked three-bean stew is a hearty stew with ingredients to clean your pantry like canned tomatoes and canned beans that come together in a spice- and cocoa-flavored broth!
Twenty years ago, if you had told me I could have chocolate for dinner, I would have run to the store to buy myself a Cadbury bar! But, today, my idea of chocolate for dinner is a little different.
With the popularity of mole sauces and chocolate-rubbed meats, chocolate for dinner isn’t what it used to be. A few years ago, I came across a chili recipe from Emeril Lagasse that made use of a dark beer and dark chocolate. The combination of dark beer and dark chocolate resulted in an unforgettable chili with such a deliciously deep layer of flavors that it convinced me to add cocoa and/or a kind of beer to a boring recipe to give it a much-needed push. And that’s how this three-bean stew with slow pot cocoa came to this little space of mine.
Last Monday I was on the cusp of what was going to be a busy week, so I thought I’d make some sort of slow-cook stew that would leave my daughter and me with leftovers all week. Since I also needed to clean my pantry, I thought I would throw away all the things that were about to expire in this stew. I rummaged and ended up with a can of fire-roasted tomatoes, a can of diced tomatoes and chilies, a can of chickpeas, a can of black beans, a jar of vegetable broth, some mung beans, and a can of tomato paste, all of which ended up in my slow cooker.
Now, I’m a big fan of “a lot of spices is always nice”, so I decided to dry roast some garam masala and add it to the contents of the slow cooker. But, I really wanted to boost the flavor of the beans and tomatoes even more, so I also caramelized some onions (in the same pan where I dry roasted the garam masala) and threw them into the slow cooker as well. At this point, I felt that a couple of teaspoons of cocoa would fit well with the garam masala and tomatoes and I also added it and didn’t mess with this stew for the rest of the afternoon. I’m not an expert, but I’ve found that with cocoa (just like salt) a little can help add a layer of smooth, rich, creamy, and delicious flavor to any savory dish it’s used in.
Later that night, my daughter lifted the lid on this slow-cooking three-bean stew and the aroma was intoxicating. We enjoyed bowls of that stew that first night and the second and third and fourth, with crusty bread on some nights and rice on others. When we got to the last piece of this stew, my daughter suggested that we stack a mound of Monterey jack cheese and cheddar cheese in it, bake it, and enjoy it as a sauce with nachos, and enjoyed it!
So what are your thoughts on chocolate for dinner?
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