Sunday, 24 October 2010

Todas las Americas chilli

Having finally had some time away from work (which mainly means having some time away from trains up and down the country) I'm back to getting busy in the kitchen.

I had a great trip to Waitrose this afternoon to stock up on ingredients this afternoon and the rest of the week, and as a result now have the fixings for roast poussin with turnip and potato mash, dolmades, individual veggie pot pies with three root veg mash with goat's cheese, blueberry cheesecake, and Christmas cake and puddings. The poussins and turnip mash are for lunch tomorrow, the next three are for dinner with friends on Tuesday, and the latter for sending off to Canada and Japan in good time for them to mature in advance of the big day. I'll blog those recipes as I do them, but today was all about the chilli of the three Americas.

I, along with every other ex-student cook, have been making chilli for the last decade. The version I came up with tonight was not only really, really good, but also incorporated key ingredients from north, central and south America. I'm sure any Mexican looking at the recipe would faint with horror but it has to be one of the best iterations I've ever made. If you fancy doing it yourself, you'll need:

500g minced beef (10% fat - standard lean in the UK)
1 large onion
Glug of groundnut oil
3 cloves garlic
2 fat small red chillies
1/3 jar pickled green jalapenos
Ground cumin
Ground coriander
Dried oregano
Ground hot paprika/cayenne pepper mix (sold over here as Hot Paprika)
Plenty of Maldon salt and fresh ground black pepper
1/3 bottle of good Chilean red wine
100g 70% cocoa solids Venezuelan dark chocolate
1 14 oz tin chopped tomatoes
Large squirt tomato puree
1 14 oz tin red kidney beans
Large slug maple syrup

Plenty of brown rice, sour cream and grated cheese to serve.

Serves four as a main with no pudding, six with it, and two for several days with quite a few leftovers.

1. Finely dice onions and fry gently in groundnut oil in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan until softened, about 5 minutes. Add finely diced garlic and roughly chopped red chillies and jalapenos.
2. Shake in about 2 tsps each of cumin, coriander and paprika. Then about a tablespoon of dried oregano.
3. Wait til you can smell the spices cooking, a minute or two, and add the minced beef to the pot. Fry together on a medium heat until the beef is mostly browned off.
4. Add in the tomato puree, stir, and cook off for another minute or two.
5. Throw in the red wine, chopped tomatoes, kidney beans and chocolate. Cook off gently for about 40 mins (you can make the rice whilst this is simmering away).
6. Taste and season with salt and pepper and maple syrup, adding in more chilli or wine if you need it.
7. Serve with brown rice, a splodge of sour cream and grated cheese on top.

This always tastes better after a day or two in the pot to solidify (and we'll be having it for dinner on Monday) but to be honest was pretty good the first time around. I'll liven it up again with a little more red wine and seasoning. If you use standard dark chocolate you won't need as much maple syrup or red wine, and next time I try this version, I'd use less wine but throw in a bit of balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce to balance out the flavours. This version though is complex, pleasantly smoky and excitingly sweet and savoury all at once. Let me know if you try it...

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