I’ve spent all day wishing that I was back in bed. I’m not well and all I’ve thought about at work is being snug in my cosy bed. Arriving home, my wife told me to go straight to bed and get some rest. Now I don’t want to go to bed. It’s too early. There’s only one thing that I want and I can’t have it, so I want it more than anything else!
Chilli con carne. No wait, come back! I’m not talking about any old chilli con carne. I’m not talking about the minced-up slop that gets dolloped onto baked potatoes, or the stuff that comes in tins and might as well be dog food. What my ailing physical shell is crying out for is some deeply spiced, meaty chilli with plenty of satisfying mouthfuls of flavour and comfort. What I want is my beloved chunky chilli con carne, and sadly, there’s no chance of me having that wish fulfilled.
I made the chilli last week and thoroughly enjoyed it because I don’t make it often. There are some things that I can make quickly, but chilli con carne is not one of them. I really take my time, slow things right down to snail pace. We’re talking seriously slow food.
The night before I make it, I cover the beef in spices and garlic and put it in the fridge. The next day, I pile up the flavour and give the chilli lots of depth and a long, slow cook. By the time it’s ready to eat, the meat is tender, full of flavour and so good that it can be served alone. As it is, my preference is to pair it with some beautifully buttery mashed potato. This is by no means a traditional partner to chilli con carne, but it’s something I remember from my childhood and it’s such a perfect way to make sure that every last drop of chilli is mopped up. The chilli and mash combo is so comforting and hearty that it’s no wonder my immune system is calling out for it. A shame then, that all I have is the memory of last week and a recipe for my ultimate chilli con carne that may just knock your socks off.
My ultimate chunky chilli con carne
400g stewing beef (roughly chopped)
1 tin chopped tomatoes (400g)
1 tin red kidney bins (400g)
1 red onion (sliced)
1 Spanish onion (sliced)
3 cloves garlic
4 tblspoons dried oregano
2 tblspoons chilli flakes
2 chipotle chillis
1 red chilli (sliced)
2 tblspoons coriander seeds
2 tblspoons cumin seeds
2 tblspoons cumin powder
1 bunch fresh coriander
1 tblspoon tomato puree
1 tspoon cinnamon
Put the beef into a plastic container ready to go into the fridge. Add the cinnamon, two tablespoons of oregano, two tablespoons of dried chilli flakes, two roughly chopped garlic cloves and a teaspoon of cumin powder. Mix thoroughly and then seal the container. Leave in the fridge overnight if possible. A few hours will do if you don’t have the time.
The next day, let the meat come back to room temperature before cooking it. Dry fry the cumin and coriander seeds in a hot pan, but don’t allow them to burn. Toasting them will release their flavour. Grind them to a powder and set aside.
Brown the beef in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and then add both of the onions. Tip the ground coriander and cumin seeds into the pot, add another clove of garlic and stir. Allow the onions to soften and cook through without burning. Add another couple of tablespoons of oregano and the red chilli.
Next tip the tomatoes in and stir. Allow to cook for five or six minutes and then stir in the kidney beans and the tomato puree. Add another teaspoon of cumin powder. Finally, pour in just enough water to cover the beef and add the chipotles. Make sure that everything is well mixed together. Cover and cook on a low heat for an hour or so, stirring every now and again so that nothing sticks or burns.
The beef needs to cook slowly and become soft. Once it is tender, take the lid off the pan and cook the chilli for another hour to allow the sauce to reduce and thicken. If you’re into coriander like I am, chop a bunch and stir it into the chilli just before serving. Don’t forget to remove the chipotles before tucking in.