Chilli con Carne

 

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Saturday can be a day for relaxing and pottering.  One is refreshed after a lie-in perhaps, and the chores that need to be completed before the start of the working week can be delayed until tomorrow.  A day such as this is perfect for some slow cooking and for spending time near the Aga.

Last weekend got off to a particularly enjoyable start when we went out on Friday evening for a meal with some friends.  They introduced us to Bulrush, a fairly new Bristol restaurant, which seems to be gaining in popularity by the day.  We discovered that it had not been over-hyped, either by our friends or in the media, and enjoyed every one of the nine (!) courses on the taster menu.

It was not a late night so I felt rested on Saturday morning.  My husband went off to do a ward round, youngest son to do his paper round and I walked the dog.  Once we’d had breakfast and dressed I popped down to the farmers’ market for some sourdough bread for lunch and came home to start on the chilli I’d planned for supper.  At this time of year I love Saturday evenings when we have no plans because it means I can sit and watch Strictly Come Dancing with a gin and tonic and organise for the supper to be ready afterwards.  Chilli works well because it can be left to bubble away all afternoon in the simmering oven and all that’s required as Strictly is coming to an end is to cook some rice and make a salsa.

I suspect for many of us chilli is one of those dishes which we make from memory, perhaps using slightly different ingredients each time.  For years I’ve been basing mine on this ragù recipe; I just substitute red wine for white, add chilli powder before adding the tomato purée and finally red kidney beans about half an hour before serving.  This weekend that is more or less what I did but instead of just chilli powder, I also added some cumin and some chipotle paste.  This provided added depth and smokiness and I was delighted with the result.

Ingredients

  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 1kg minced beef (full fat for flavour)
  • 1 heaped tsp ground cumin
  • 4 tsps chipotle paste
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 200ml milk
  • 200ml red wine
  • 500ml passata
  • 1 or 2 x 400g tins red kidney beans
  • Sour cream to serve

Method

  • Heat the olive oil in a large casserole and add the onion and a sprinkling of salt.  Stir to coat in the oil and leave to cook in the simmering oven, or if you’re in a hurry on the simmering plate, stirring regularly
  • When the onions are soft and translucent, add the crushed garlic, place the casserole on the boiling plate and add the mince and some salt, stirring and breaking it up with a fork as you go.  When it has lost its pink colour, transfer to the simmering plate and stir in the spices, chipotle paste and tomato purée
  • Then add the milk and bay leaves and let this cook, uncovered, until most of it is absorbed before you add the wine
  • After about five minutes add the passata, give it a stir and when it’s just about simmering, transfer, still uncovered, to the simmering oven for a minimum of three hours but it won’t come to any harm if left there for six.  Add the kidney beans about half an hour before you plan to eat
  • Serve with basmati rice, a dollop of sour cream and salsa

Salsa

I happened to use this Delia salsa recipe this time but there are many others and you might already have a favourite.  Simply mix all the ingredients together.

  • 1 large avocado, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, deseeded and the flesh diced (you can also peel them if you like)
  • About a tablespoon of chopped fresh coriander or to taste
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • A few drops of tabasco
  • Seasoning

 

 

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