Chilli Con Carne

2014-07-19 21.06.19

Deliciously comforting beef with a hint of heat, perfect to pile on toppings and enjoy!

Chilli was the first meal I remember my Mum teaching me how to cook so it will always hold sentimental value. The way I learnt to cook with my Mum was by watching how she did things and then copying them. She never wrote any measurements or processes down, it was always a pinch of this, a glug of that. I think this made it more interesting for me because there weren’t strict rules of how much of each ingredient had to go in. It also influenced what type of cook I turned into – I am always adapting recipes by leaving out ingredients I don’t like and adding more of what I do. Cooking has a lot more freedom than baking which sometimes requires exact measurements so I find recipes easier to adapt.

After a while chilli became ‘my meal’ that I would make for the rest of the family. I remember getting a bit annoyed if Mum would suggest she would be making it because even though I love my Mum’s cooking, I got very particular about how I would like things to be done. As well as being particular about how food is made and prepared; I have no shame in admitting I am a food snob. To me food is something to enjoy so it has to be tasty and I believe good ingredients and cooking from scratch (where possible) are key factors. My friends at work love hearing of the little disputes I have with Rien because he has bought the wrong chicken or the ham has water added to it. In his defense I realise I am a little demanding and he does get it right most of the time.

I have been brought up in a family that if it could be made from scratch, it was. I wasn’t brought up by lasagne being made with jarred sauces and that being classed as home made. The flavours in jarred sauces is not comparable to a home made sauce. Don’t get me wrong, I understand people are busy but most thing don’t take too much longer to make yourself and taste so much better! I fully believe that by being brought up with great food and being encouraged to cook as influenced my love for food today.

I have made some small changes to the recipe over the years but this was my Mum’s original recipe for chilli. Today using chocolate in Mexican cooking is becoming more well known but 10+ years ago this was slightly unusual. Mum always referred to the chocolate as her secret ingredient. Personally I think she was ahead of the times with the chocolate. She always insisted on kidney beans in chilli sauce and this is essential! I only use the kidney beans for the chilli sauce they come in because I’m not a massive fan of them. You really do need the chilli sauce because it gives the chilli a fantastic flavour. If you don’t have the different chilli powders I have used, just use normal chilli powder which is what we did for years and is very tasty. Feel free to add more chilli if you like more heat.

Rant over – onto the chilli! My friend at work, Abi asked me for my chilli recipe. So this one is for you.

Serves 4
spray oil

1 large onion, diced
3 fat garlic gloves, finely chopped
500g lean beef mince
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp worchester sauce
1 tsp mustard powder
2 tbsp tomato puree
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ancho chilli powder
1/4 tsp chipotle chilli powder
1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
1 tin chopped plum tomatoes
2 OXO cubes
1 tin kidney beans in chilli sauce (has to be in chilli sauce)
30g dark chocolate 

  1. Put the oil in a pan on medium/high heat and add the diced onions and garlic. Sweat for 5 mins stirring occasionally. Add the mince making sure it is broken up – I do this by using a wooden spoon. Cook for a further 5 mins or until the mince is brown all over

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  1. Add the salt, pepper, mustard powder, tomato puree, spices and oregano and stir to mix. Add the tin of tomatoes and stir. Turn the heat down so it is bubbling gently. Using the chopped tomato tin as a measure, fill it with boiling water and pour over the mince (careful the tin can be very hot!). This acts as a good way of measuring how much water to use, but also helps rinse the tin and catch the last of the tomato juices (one of Mum’s great tips!)

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    1. Add the 2 OXO cubes (Mum would always tell me to crumble these in but I always seemed to make a mess so now I chuck the whole thing in and make sure I stir it well!). Allow to bubble away gently for 15 minutes or so, stirring every so often. You can leave it longer just make sure you remember to stir it!
    2. Next add the kidney beans in chilli sauce. This time I fill the empty tin not quite half way with water from a recently boiled kettle and add this to the pan and stir. Leave to gently bubble for a further 15 mins
    3. Break the chocolate into squares and add to the pan. Mix through and allow to bubble for 5 mins, then serve

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We always had our chilli with rice, soured cream and salad. For some reason the salad was always in these same little bowls and was separated so each item had its own bowl. When I moved out, Mum gave me these bowls which can be seen in the photo.

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Chilli freezes really well if you don’t want to eat it all. Just defrost in the fridge and make sure it is piping hot. This makes a really quick and easy mid week meal. It isn’t the prettiest of food – especially when I mix it all together, but it has such a comforting flavour with a little kick.

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4 thoughts on “Chilli Con Carne

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