Editor’s note: This recipe was originally published in 2009.
In Mexico, chocolate isn’t just for dessert.
Mole (pronounced MOH-lay, think “guacamole”) is a savory sauce made from onions, garlic, peppers, spices — and just a smidge of dark chocolate stirred in to add a richness and complexity.
Dark chocolate containing 70 percent cocoa or more is high in antioxidants and rich in flavonols and flavonoids, which may boost good HDL cholesterol levels and promote heart health.
Unfortunately, sometimes it’s easy to get carried away with the good and overlook the not-so-good: Traditional mole recipes often call for a half cup or more of lard while CalorieKing ( calorieking.com
) calculates a 1/2-cup serving of prepared mole (sauce, no meat) at 168 milligrams sodium and almost 14 grams of fat.
The Star’s Pork and Black Bean Chili Mole
offers a similar flavor profile as a more traditional Mexican mole but relies on reduced-sodium chicken broth, no-salt added tomato paste and cubes of lean pork loin to whittle down those numbers. To further boost the nutrition, we added black beans, another staple of the cuisine, which adds protein, calcium, phosphorous, iron and fiber.
And adapting ethnic cuisines comes with other less obvious advantages: Eating smaller amounts of meat and bulking up with beans is one way to slash the grocery bill without skimping on good nutrition.
• Shopping tip:
Mexican varieties of dark chocolate are usually made with a tiny bit of sugar, cinnamon and ground almonds, and they are typically available at Hispanic supermarkets or specialty stores. If you don’t want to make a special trip, use bittersweet chocolate instead.
• Preparation tip:
Although jalapeno peppers are considered mild, don’t touch your eyes or lips after handling them — or wear gloves.
Pork and Black Bean Chili Mole
Makes 4 servings
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1 pound boneless pork loin, trimmed of fat, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons no-salt-added tomato paste
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
Spray a 4-quart saucepan with nonstick spray coating. Place onion, garlic, jalapeño and pork in pan and cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and meat is lightly browned. Add tomato paste, chicken broth, chili powder and cumin. Cover, heat to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in chocolate, beans and cilantro and simmer 10 minutes.
Per serving: 293 calories (28 percent from fat), 9 grams total fat (4 grams saturated), 74 milligrams cholesterol, 22 grams carbohydrates, 31 grams protein, 272 milligrams sodium, 9 grams dietary fiber.