The Sweet Ingredient Nigella Lawson Adds To Her Chili

If you enjoy food television, you're likely familiar with Nigella Lawson, the British "Domestic Goddess" whose cooking series "Nigella Feasts" and "Nigella Kitchen" propelled her to fame in the early 2000s (via Food Network). Known for her sardonic sense of humor, improvisational cooking style, and, undoubtedly, movie star looks, Lawson has gone on to charm home cooks with additional shows as well as a number of cookbooks, including "Nigella Bites" and "How to Be a Domestic Goddess."

Though born and raised in England (via IMDB), Lawson's cooking repertoire has always ranged far beyond British fare to include such dishes as Mirin-Glazed Salmon, South Indian Vegetable Curry, and the Belgian beef casserole Carbonnade a La Flamande. So it comes as no surprise that Lawson is familiar with chili con carne, a spicy beef chili typically made with ground beef and beans such as kidney beans (via Taste of Home). 

On Twitter, when a fan asked Lawson how she flavors hers, the television personality responded with an ingredient from the sweet realm, not the savory.

Dark chocolate flavors Nigella Lawson's chili con carne

When a Twitter user asked cooking series host and cookbook author Nigella Lawson how to avoid bland chili con carne, the television personality had a few suggestions. She cited layering flavors with a mix of fresh, dried, and smoked dried chiles, and also recommended flavoring the stew with a "teeny bit of dark chocolate."

As it turns out, Lawson isn't alone in using this sweet ingredient in chili con carne, with the chocolate showing up in various versions, including those from Michael Chiarello and the New York Times. Indeed, using chocolate in savory recipes is an age old tradition most often associated with the Mexican dish mole negro, in which chocolate adds depth of flavor to a deep, rich stew featuring spices, dried fruit, and the aromatic herb hoja santa (via Epicurious). As suggested by Taste of Home, chocolate is welcome in dishes ranging from cocoa-rubbed sirloin steak to chocolate-molasses pork roast. So the next time you're stirring up a pot of chili, slip some dark or unsweetened chocolate into the pot, and enjoy the beguiling sweet-savory effect it produces.