St. Lucia Inspired: Chocolate Martinis and Meatballs, OH MY

Chef Nina Compton Cocoa Braised Short Ribs with Polenta and Baby Vegetables

Photo Credit: Becca Lemire

Brrr. It’s cold outside and the winter is here. I don’t know about you, but I’m busy ignoring the blowing snow and instead I’m dreaming of beaches cocktails, and sunshine. It seems so long ago that I was rolling in the surf, not that I’m eager to repeat that particular experience… But thanks to the St. Lucia Tourist Board, I got a little taste of the Caribbean heat at a dinner with their culinary ambassador, Chef Nina Compton.

Chef Nina Compton

Photo Credit: Becca Lemire

Chef Nina (Yes, that Nina, fan favourite and runner up on Bravo’s Top Chef) treated us to her vibrant take on the diverse tastes of St. Lucia. We gorged on drinks and food all connected by two things: cocoa and rum (can’t go wrong with that), plus a farm to table sensibility, that’s fresh and exciting.

I’ve always wanted to visit this gorgeous island in the West Indies, and now I know that I do. From the photos the representatives teased us with, I’m convinced that Saint Lucia is the perfect destination for romance, rejuvenation or adventure (or, obviously in my case, all three).

St. Lucia Rum

Photo Credit: Becca Lemire

We nibbled on delicious bites like Chocolate BBQ Meatballs, Cocoa Dusted Tuna and Mango Tataki while sipping on Cocoa Tea Martinis. Then, we were treated to a cocoa-themed feast of Spiced Chocolate Soup with Foie Gras and baby vegetables, Cocoa Braised Short Ribs on Polenta, and Pumpkin Bundino (like pudding) with Salted Caramel and Chocolate Crumble.

Mouth Watering? Are you DROOLING?

Never fear, Chef Nina to the rescue, because she shared some of her recipes with us. While the Braised Short Ribs was probably the best thing I’ve ever eaten, I decided to keep it in the holiday entertaining vein and share two of her recipes that you can make for the endless stream of company that is sure to be going in and out of you house until the end of the year.

Before we get to that, have you ever seen chefs plating on the line? It’s very cool.

Chef @ninacompton plating on the line. #chef #cooking #foodie #stlucianow #instafoodie #stlucia

A video posted by BrazenWoman (@brazenwomandotcom) on

Cocoa Tea Martini

Chef Nina Compton St. Lucia Cocoa Tea Martini

Photo credit: Becca Lemire

(Serves 4-6)

What You’ll Need: 

1 cup of water

½ cup of grated cocoa (from a cocoa stick)*

¼ teaspoon of cinnamon

1 tsp chili powder

½ teaspoon of vanilla

1 cup of milk

Sugar to sweeten (optional)

1 cup Chairman’s Reserve Rum

Shaved chocolate (for garnish)

*Unless you’re visiting St. Lucia, you probably won’t be able to find a cocoa stick. But, I researched online, and you can replace it with Mexican chocolate (omit the cinnamon) and/or a mix of white and dark chocolate.

What You’ll Do: 

  • Pour 2 cups of water, grated cocoa, cinnamon and vanilla in a pot and bring to boil. Let boil for a few minutes. Then add milk and chili powder and stir. Add the sugar to sweeten.
  • Strain and and chill.
  • To serve: place one serving in in a cocktail shaker, add one measure of rum and some ice, shake and pour into chilled glasses Garnish with shaved chocolate

Chocolate BBQ MeatBalls

Chef Nina Compton Chocolate BBQ MeatBalls

(Serves 6-8)

What You’ll  Need: 

For the sauce…

2 tbsp. unsalted butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 small yellow onion, minced

1 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped

1 ½ cups ketchup

⅓ cup packed brown sugar

¼ cup brewed coffee

2 tbsp. honey

2 tbsp. cider vinegar

2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp. dry mustard

2 tsp. chili powder

2 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. ground black pepper

½ tsp. ground coriander

¼ tsp. cayenne

What You’ll Do:

  1. Melt butter in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onions; cook until soft, 4–6 minutes. Stir in chocolate, ketchup, sugar, coffee, honey, vinegar, cocoa, Worcestershire, mustard, chili powder, salt, pepper, coriander, and cayenne; cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 3 minutes.

For the Meatballs:

1/2 lb ground beef

1/2 lb ground pork (or turkey)

1 onions minced

4 tsp milk milk

1 garlic cloves microplaned

1 oz bread

2 tb chopped parsley

2 tb grated parmesan cheese

1 egg yolk

What You’ll Do: 

  • Soak the bread in the milk until almost falling apart.
  • Mix all the ingredients and then and season with salt.
  • Ensure it’s mixed, but not overmixed. Test to check for consistency (ed: should be a little sticky, but rollable) and flavor (ed: I always smell my meatball mixture since I don’t like to taste raw meat. It should smell like the seasonings).
  • Heat some oil in a large skillet. Fry the meatballs, and then toss on the hot BBQ sauce.
  • Serve with cool yogurt on the side

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