Friday, 27 February 2015

Chili Con Carne

Chili Con Carne

Ingredients (feeds 6)

800g of steak mince
1 stalk of celery finely sliced
1 Onion finely chopped
3-4 Garlic cloves crushed and finely chopped
1 Green pepper with core and seeds removed cut into slices
A handful of mushrooms sliced
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
A fresh salad tomato cut into chunks
1 tin of kidney beans in water
100g of bacon lardons
1 or 2 chilis chopped (depending on personal preference for heat)
Half a glass of red wine
Quarter of a pint of beef stock
2 teaspoons of chili powder (hot or mild - again according to personal taste)
1 table spoon of paprika
2 teaspoons of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of marjoram

Accompany with: boiled rice or baked potatoes, refried beans, sour cream, guacamole and grated mild cheese.

The cooking:

Before you start, season your raw steak mince with plenty of salt and pepper and set aside for about 5 minutes. Fry ingredients off in a pan then transfer to an over proof dish for baking as you go along. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C and prepare your ingredients. 

Start by browning your mince. This is a recipe where you do not necessarily need premium quality mince to get the best out of it. In fact fatty mince gives it a better flavour. Once it is browned, it is inevitable that a certain amount of watery liquid will have been rendered off. Decant it away (as it tastes terrible) and put your mince into an oven proof casserole dish big enough to take all these ingredients. Rinse and wipe the pan (no need to be fastidious about it) then add a few drops of olive oil and over a medium heat,  fry up your celery, peppers, onion, mushrooms and garlic together. While they are in the pan, put your lardons onto a tray and into the oven and crisp them up. Once the vegetables are softened and golden add them to the casserole dish as well. Now using the same pan, turn up the heat and reduce down your wine till the liquid roughly halves in volume. Add that to the dish and by now your lardons should be crispy so add them too.

Into the casserole dish pour the stock, the chopped tomatoes (tinned and fresh), the cumin, the marjoram, chilli powder and paprika. If you have elected to use them also at this point add the chopped fresh chillis. Now here is as good a point as any to bring this topic up. Personally I like my chilli to have more of a "smokey" flavour than anything else. But I know there are people out there who are not satisfied until they break out in a sweat. It's up to you. Without the fresh chillis this will be a mild, smokey dish with a small hint of heat.With them added, make sure you have some water on hand when you eat it. Especially if you use the seeds as well as the flesh.

You should by now have used all your ingredients except the kidney beans. Give the whole lot a good stir so it is thoroughly mixed, then put a lid on the dish and bake in the oven for 2-3 hours, The longer the better. In fact if you have the time, drop the temperature to 170 and cook it all day. Check it every now and again and give all the ingredients a good stir. If it starts to dry out then add more wine. If it starts to resemble soup then pour off the surplus liquid. Good chilli needs to be the consistency of unset concrete in my view. Add the beans for the last 20 minutes of cooking.

Serve up with rice or on a baked potatoe with a side of refried beans. Give your guests a selection of toppings to add, preferably soured cream, grated mild cheese and guacamole. This is a good dish for a buffet at a party.

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