Ancho and Chocolate BBQ Sauce? Yes please! While not your typical BBQ sauce, the depth of flavor developed in my Ancho and Chocolate BBQ Sauce with the help of ancho chile powder and dark, all natural chocolate is nothing short of amazing! Pour it over a flavorful Mexican Meatball for a tasty and easy alternative to a comforting classic…
If you’ve ever had molé, you have experienced the complexity chocolate can bring to savory dishes. Several weeks ago, I discovered a local company called Mozna Chocolate at the McAllen Growing Growers Farmers Market. I jumped at the chance to do a community cooking demonstration November 12 using one of their chocolates. After tasting chocolate from several countries, I decided on the Mexican 70% dark chocolate.
I considered doing a recipe for a healthy molé, but a properly executed molé has a list of ingredients a mile long and is (logistically speaking) not practical for a cooking demo without a full blown kitchen. I did want to capture a bit of the flavor of a molé in a dish that is simple enough to make on a weeknight in a home kitchen. My Ancho and Chocolate BBQ Sauce With Mexican Meatloaf embraces the flavors of Mexico, and the BBQ sauce is finger-licking good!
The Mexican Meatloaf portion of this dish is also well-suited to being formed into meatballs and served as a tapas or appetizer. That is the approach I took for the samples for my cooking demo. The individual meatballs each got a generous spoonful of the Ancho and Chocolate BBQ Sauce and a cocktail pick for serving…
My “go to” ground meat is ground chicken thighs – available at Sprouts Farmers Market in McAllen. Feel free to use your preferred ground meat, or even a combination. You may have most of the ingredients in your well-stocked pantry – spices like ground cumin, ancho chile powder, cinnamon, and smoked paprika – garlic, shallots, tomato sauce, etc. I usually make a double recipe, and freeze half or more for another meal or two. If you’ve not already discovered chocolate in savory dishes, I hope you’ll give this flavorful dish a chance to convince you how delicious it can be!
My “Secret Weapons”:
- I love my immersion blender for blending the sauce ingredients. Avoid the mess and burn risk involved with transferring hot food to a blender!
- A small food chopper makes quick work of mincing the onion, cilantro, and garlic for the meatloaf/meatballs mixture.
- Perfect Stix bamboo picks and Bamboo MN disposable wood boats are perfect for serving the meatballs and sauce as a tapas/appetizer.
More Healthy Mexican:
- Mexican Spiced Pork Chops With Salsa Verde and Cotija
- Mexican Cilantro Rice
- Mexican Fish In Parchment
- Nopalitos and Red Chile Rice Bowls
Mexican Meatballs or Meatloaf
- 1 cup cilantro leaves, packed
- 1/2 onion, cut in quarters
- 1 pound ground meat (see notes)
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup green chile, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- several grinds pepper
Ancho and Chocolate BBQ Sauce
- unrefined coconut or canola oil
- 2 shallots, minced
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 29 ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoon ancho chile powder
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar see notes
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon worcestershire
- 1 3.5 ounce bar dark chocolate see notes
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 convection).
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine cilantro leaves and quartered onion. Process until finely minced. Scrape into a fine mesh strainer. Press the liquid from the mixture. Add to a large mixing bowl.
- Add the ground meat, garlic, chopped green chile, panko, egg, salt, and pepper.
- Mix thoroughly to combine. It's best to use your hands! You can wash them afterwards!
- Press into a loaf pan. Cook 40 minutes. Spread the top with a generous amount of BBQ Sauce. Continue cooking until an instant read thermometer reads 160 degrees.
- Slice, and serve with additional sauce. Garnish with chopped cilantro.
- Roll into walnut-sized balls. Add a bit of unrefined coconut or canola oil to a non-stick saute pan over medium heat. Brown meatballs on all sides, cooking a total of about 20 minutes on medium heat.
- To serve, drizzle with the Ancho and Chocolate BBQ Sauce, and serve with cocktail picks.
Ancho and Chocolate BBQ Sauce
- Add coconut or canola oil to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Add shallot, garlic, and cumin. Cook (stirring occasionally) until shallot is transparent - about 5 minutes.
- Add tomato sauce and remaining ingredients. Simmer while the meatloaf/meatballs finish cooking - about 15 minutes. Use the immersion blender in the pan to puree the sauce until very smooth.
Choose your preferred ground meat - lean ground beef, chicken breast, chicken thighs, pork, turkey, elk, or a combination.
Choose a vinegar that is smooth, not over-powering. I like sherry vinegar, but a good apple cider vinegar or an aged balsamic would be great.
Use a good quality dark chocolate - 3.5 ounces. 70% dark is about right. I loved the Mozna Mexican Chocolate. If you use a sweet chocolate, you might want to use a bit less, as the sweetness may throw off the balance of flavors.
Macronutrients (approximation from MyFitnessPal): 291 calories; 25 g protein; 14 g carbohydrates; 16 g fat. I used 4 servings of the meat mixture, and 16 servings of the Ancho-Chocolate BBQ Sauce to determine the macros. My preferred ground meat is chicken, and I used chicken in the app calculation.
The sauce recipe makes a generous amount (think 29 ounces of tomato sauce plus the other ingredients). Refrigerate or freeze the remaining sauce for another meal. Try using it for anything you'd use with a good bbq sauce...
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 291 Total Fat: 16g Carbohydrates: 14g Protein: 25g