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Made with sharp cumin, tangy apple cider vinegar, rich dark chocolate and sweet stewed tomatoes, this is a seductive cousin of traditional ketchup-based barbecue sauce. It's lovely on all types of meat, including pork spareribs, beef tenderloin and lamb chops.
Makes 4 servings
Chocolate Barbecue Sauce
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon chopped, dried onion
1 cup tomato sauce or 1 cup stewed tomatoes, drained and pureed until slightly thickened
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ancho or pasilla chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 ounce 72 percent semisweet dark chocolate of your choice, broken into small pieces
4 chicken cutlets, about 4 to 6 ounces each
2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt and black pepper, for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Position a rack in the center of the oven.
For the barbecue sauce: In a small pan over medium heat, melt butter. Add minced garlic and onion, and saute 1 minute or until just golden and fragrant but not browned. Add tomato sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, chili powder, cumin and salt. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to a simmer. Add cilantro and chocolate, stirring until chocolate is completely melted. This is a thick sauce, ideal for clinging to the chicken. If you prefer it thinner, add a little water or chicken broth until the desired consistency is reached. Allow to cool slightly.
For the chicken, pour oil into a deep 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Dip one chicken cutlet at a time in the barbecue sauce, until evenly coated. Place inside the oiled baking dish. Repeat with remaining cutlets. Discard any leftover barbecue sauce. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and the chicken is cooked through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.