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Every year my office has a Chili Cookoff as a fundraiser for charity. This year, for the first time, I contributed an entry. What a test for the DASH Diet! Can a low-sodium dish win acceptance among a group of eaters who are not used to low-sodium cooking?

I am not a Chili Connoisseur. I have been known to enjoy the occasional bowl of chili, but I’m no expert at the Art of cooking it. This was my first attempt at coming up with a chili recipe of my own. Though born in the US, my roots pass through Martinique, and I was raised on French Caribbean cooking. Having recently acquired a handful of scotch bonnet peppers, I knew I had to attempt to craft a Caribbean version of Chili.

I looked through my Caribbean cookbooks and searched the Web. By all appearances, the classic American dish of chili has not made it to the Caribbean. I didn’t find a single recipe. I was on my own. This recipe is what I came up with.

Bottom line: it didn’t win the cookoff. Nor did I expect it to. It was a first attempt, after all. When I tasted it, I knew it needed some tweaking. The most noticeable problem was that I put in too much cocoa powder. It tasted like a very chocolaty mole. Don’t get me wrong: I love mole! It just wasn’t the effect I was going for. Next time I will try it with just 1 tbsp of cocoa powder. Another thing I will change in the future will be to cut up the stew meat less thinly — by the time it was done cooking, there were no chunks left and the stew beef was indistinguishable from the ground beef. I had been hoping for it to add interesting texture. More mango, more curry powder, and a touch more scotch bonnet (3 instead of 2.5) will also be part of my next attempt.

Though it didn’t win, I did get a lot of compliments for it. Several people said it was their personal favorite. I think I overheard one of the judges say so. I didn’t hear a single complaint that it wasn’t salty enough.

The recipe below is exactly as I made it. Consider it a recipe in progress. Around this time next year, look for me to post “Award-winning Caribbean Style Chili”…

Caribbean Style Chili

Caribbean Style Chili

Caribbean Style Chili

Makes about 16 servings



  1. Set slow cooker on low.
  2. Pour beer into slow cooker. Add mango pulp and the 2 whole scotch bonnet peppers (do not open them!).

    Scotch bonnets and frozen mango pulp floating in beer

    Scotch bonnets and frozen mango pulp floating in beer

  3. Cut remaining half scotch bonnet in 2 or 3 pieces.
  4. Brown the stew beef pieces in a skillet, with the scotch bonnet pieces. Remove the beef pieces from the skillet and slice them thinly across the grain. Add them to the slow cooker being careful not to puncture or damage the peppers.

    Slice browned stew cubes thinly across the grain

    Slice browned stew cubes thinly across the grain

  5. Brown the ground beef and ground bison, with the scotch bonnet pepper pieces. Stir and separate the ground meats while browning. Remove the pepper pieces (put them in the food processor for the next step). Drain the liquid and fat from the skillet. Stir in the tomato sauce and tomato paste.  Add the ground meat mixture to the slow cooker. Again, be careful to keep the whole peppers whole.

    Browned ground beef with scotch bonnet

    Browned ground beef with scotch bonnet piece

  6. In a food processor, puree the onion, garlic, tomato, and pepper pieces. Put the puree into the hot skillet and stir to pick up all the flavorful beef from the bottom of the skillet. Add the mixture to the crock pot and stir carefully.
  7. Add the can of black beans. Stir carefully.
  8. Add the cocoa, cinnamon, jamaican curry powder, and chili powder. Stir carefully.
  9. Cook for about 11-12 hours on low or 5-6 hours on high.
  10. Before serving, remove the 2 whole scotch bonnets. Mash them up in a small serving dish. People who like their chili very hot can stir a small amount of the mashed peppers into their chili. A little bit makes a lot of heat.




DASH Food Groups per Serving





meats, fish, and poultry

seeds, and legumes

Healthy Fats
and oils

and added sugars

 – 3/4  1/16  3 1/4  –




Fat g

Sugar g

 261 107 11.6  3


P.S. I saved a cup of the chili and served it for dinner over low-salt tortilla chips, with grated Emmentaler (a low sodium swiss cheese). Normally, the cheese you think of for chili is cheddar, but the swiss went really well with this chocolatey chili.

Chili on Chips with melted emmentaler cheese, potato, and broccoli

Chili on Chips with melted emmentaler cheese. Sides of garlic potatoes and steamed broccoli completed the meal.