There are certain things in life that don’t mix well when combined together: oil and vinegar, Republicans and Democrats, Yankees fans and Red Sox fans — just to name but a few. So, when Katzie Guy-Hamilton, executive chef and director of food and beverage at Max Brenner, tried to convince me how delicious chocolate can be when used in savory dishes, to say I was pretty doubtful would be an understatement of epic proportions.
Don’t get me wrong — I love chocolate. I just typically prefer mine served in dessert form. Something about chocolate and savory dishes sounded a bit contrived and gimmicky. Consequently, when I was invited to a tasting event to launch Max Brenner’s new menu I was adamant that I would stick to the sweet options.
"Just try it," said Guy-Hamilton, after I declined the savory options. "Chocolate has a place in a lot of dishes. It isn't always sweet. It's bitter and silky and adds a new flavor to traditional recipes," she said. And, she was correct. The dishes I tried were subtle and unctuous rather than tasting as if someone has melted an entire Hershey bar over the top. "Only a small amount of chocolate is used in each savory course — a little goes a long way," explained Guy-Hamilton. "And remember, dark chocolate isn't very sweet."
When I asked what flavors work particularly well with chocolate, she replied, "Coffee. Chestnuts. Fruits like pear and fig. Actually, all things that belong in a Thanksgiving feast!"
To prove her point, Guy-Hamilton has conjured up five Thanksgiving recipes, each incorporating chocolate, that you can offer up at your dinner. "Each dish has a base ingredient that goes well with chocolate," she said. "For example, Brussels sprouts and bacon are a natural pairing, as is bacon and chocolate, so we figured… why not combine all three?"