Chocolatier that she is, Mimi Wheeler knows well the ancient Mayan flavors that pair so unexpectedly and deliciously with our favorite dark addiction. Chocolate with chili peppers, with pumpkin, with sesame, to name a few possibilities. Mimi’s insight led her to create Chocolate Chili Rub, a complement to the artisanal hand-dipped chocolates that have put her Empire-based company, Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate, on the foodie map. The rub, she says, is wonderful on beef, poultry, fish, and even in salad. Mimi teamed with her Leelanau County friend and neighbor (and writer) Anne-Marie Oomen to perfect this recipe for braised chuck roast.

Chuck Roast with Chocolate Chili Rub


  • 2 to 2 ½ pounds chuck roast (preferably local no-hormone meat)
  • 2 tablespoons Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate Chili Rub
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 5 tablespoons (as needed) plus one cup of dry red wine
  • 1 teaspoon of maple syrup
  • 1–2 cups beef broth
  • 3 or 4 sprigs of fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream


Place roast in a deep dish and sprinkle one tablespoon of chocolate chili rub on each side. Press lightly into the meat using a spatula. Cover the meat with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for a minimum of an hour and a half to marinate.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place a rack in the middle of the oven. Put the roast in a deep cast iron pot and sear in olive oil over medium heat 4–5 minutes on each side. If the rub starts to char, add a couple of tablespoons of red wine to deglaze. Remove the roast and place in a bowl.

Add any remaining of the 5 tablespoons of wine and sauté onions in the same pan for 4 to 5 minutes over medium to low heat until lightly caramelized. Add 1 cup red wine, reduce to half, add maple syrup and one cup of beef broth and thyme. Let simmer and reduce the sauce to about 3/4 cup. Place the roast in the pan, and spoon sauce over the meat. Cover the roast with a tight fitting lid or parchment paper followed by aluminum foil. Place the roast in the oven and slow-cook for 2 hours.

Check the roast after one hour of cooking and add more broth if needed. When roast is done, remove from pot. Cover and let rest before cutting. Meanwhile add broth or wine to the remaining sauce to equal about ½ cup, reduce slightly over medium heat, add cream and simmer for another minute. Slice meat and pour a bit of this reduced sauce over each slice, and serve extra at the table.

This article is featured in the February 2013 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s MagazineGet your copy now for more February dining ideas!

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