SERVES 6 to 8

In sixth-grade English, our class read a story about a Native American tribe in the Southwest. I’ve forgotten all but one fascinating detail of that story: The family ate meat cooked with chocolate. Thanks to my dad’s rule that we must at least try everything once, I ate a lot of weird stuff as a kid—raw lamb in kibbeh, sweetbreads, capers—but this was something I simply couldn’t fathom. Chocolate! With meat! Now, I’m a sucker for anything that’s sweetly savory, and every time I reach for the cocoa, I smile at the memory of 11-year-old me. This chili is spicy, but not hot. Reminiscent of mole, the flavors are rich, mellow, and deep.


• 2 tablespoons coconut oil
• 2 medium onions, diced (about 2 cups)
• 4 cloves garlic, minced (about 4 teaspoons)
• 2 pounds ground beef
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
• 2 tablespoons chili powder
• 2 tablespoons ground cumin
• 1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
• 1 teaspoon ground allspice
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
• 1 can (14.5 ounces) fire-roasted, chopped tomatoes
• 1 can (14.5 ounces) beef broth
• 1 cup water

Simmering is the magic time when the flavors meld, and, like most tomato-based, slow-simmer foods, this tastes even better on the second (or third) day.


1. Heat a large, deep pot over medium-high heat, then add the coconut oil. When the oil is melted, add the onions, stir with a wooden spoon, and cook until they’re translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic, and as soon as it’s fragrant, about 30 seconds later, crumble the ground meat into the pan with your hands, mixing with the wooden spoon to combine. Continue to cook the meat, stirring often, until it’s no longer pink.

2. In a small bowl, crush the oregano between your palms to release its flavor, then add the chili powder, cumin, cocoa, allspice, and salt. Combine with a fork, then add to the pot, stirring like you mean it. Add the tomato paste and stir until combined, about 2 minutes.

3. Add the tomatoes with their juice, beef broth, and water to the pot. Stir well. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat so the chili enjoys a gentle simmer. Simmer uncovered for at least 2 hours. Do not skimp on the simmer!

You know how you could do that?

Try a meat combo by mixing ground beef with ground turkey, pork, or bison.
Make a double batch and freeze half so you have chili-on-demand.
Top with sliced olives, diced onions, and/or avocado slices.