My mother-in-law makes THE best chilli con carne. I’d say it’s her signature dish … as well as her legendary roast dinners – aaaaahhh, Sunday lunches were made for such meals.
But we live thousands of miles away and sometimes we need a chilli fix in between visiting the in-laws. I think this version is one that she would give her blessing (fingers crossed) so I’ll share it with you too.
Yes, I know that there are a million trillion chilli recipes knocking around but this is a belter and definitely is a keeper. A really good chilli strikes me as a key component of any cooking repertoire. It’s the little black dress of the kitchen – tasty, timeless, can be prepared in advance, easy to dress up or down, perfect for any occasion. And I know exactly how I like mine –
- its colours should be vibrant – no grey mince in sight.
- it should be thick and unctuous – nothing sloppy please.
- it should pack a punch with its flavour and should have heat (more on that later).
- it should be served with rice … WHITE rice. I am the first person to sing the praises of brown rice but here it’s just wrong – I want white all the way.
- it should be topped with a significant dollop of crème fraîche (to stir through as you wish) and sprinkled with some chopped spring onions and jalapeno peppers from a jar.
- it should have a bottle of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce served alongside it – a little sprinkled over the rice is sensational.
- it should come with flatbreads (Arabic bread in Dubai; pitta bread in England) to make the best ever chilli con carne sandwich. Not what you eat when the Queen comes to dinner, but oh so tasty …
I will hold my hand up and admit that I also have a weird fondness for an accompanying rocket or spinach salad with my chilli, but I know that’s just me being a freaky-salad-obsessed-fruit-loop so I won’t even begin to take you down that path.
Over the summer in France, there was a family request for chilli for dinner. As an easy, no-nonsense dish it seemed perfectly suited to the holiday vibe so the shopping happened and then the cooking. It was all going SO well until the tasting. So here’s the thing – the French love their food but to be completely accurate the French often seem to only love THEIR food; that is, they love french food from France as opposed to anywhere else in the world. And nowhere more so than in rural France. Although the ingredients were surprisingly all available, the chilli had absolutely zero heat in it – nothing – zilch – not even when I added nearly the whole jar. Fresh chillies were only available from a supermarket over an hour away and the chilli flakes that I also tried gave as much kick as a sprinkling of pot pourri (remember that stuff?). So we dined on mince; mince and beans and tomatoes. Not my mood board at all.
And what did I learn from this? When in France, eat like the French – unless you can stash a supply of chillies in your luggage …
Anyway, back to this chilli. It is tweaked from a Good Food recipe and it is definitely my ‘go to’. It’s very quick – you’ll have it bubbling away in around 30 minutes and it’s super easy. And I bet you can guess what I’m going to say next … it freezes well, reheats like a dream, even better the next day etc etc. I think you know how I roll by now.
So, however you choose to adorn and serve your chilli – give this version a go. I think you’ll agree that this recipe is a keeper. So …. what are you waiting for?
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 red pepper, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon hot chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 500g lean minced beef
- 1 beef stock cube or 2 teaspoons beef stock powder
- 400g can chopped tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons tomato purée
- 400g can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan (big enough to hold the finished chilli) and cook the onions for about 5 minutes, or until slightly translucent. Now tip in the garlic, red pepper, chilli powder, paprika and cumin. Stir well and leave to cook for 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.
- If you are in a hurry, use another pan to brown the minced beef while the onions and peppers are cooking. If you would rather save on washing up, remove the onion and pepper mixture from the pan when it is cooked and use the same pan for the beef. Either way, keep the heat high so that the meat browns nicely.
- Now tip everything into one pan and add the beef stock cube (or beef stock powder), 200ml water, can of chopped tomatoes, oregano, sugar and the tomato purée. Give everything a good stir and season well.
- Bring the whole thing to the boil and then simmer gently without a lid on for 20 minutes. Keep an eye on the pan to make sure it isn't getting too dry - you can always add a touch of extra water if you need it.
- Now add the beans and simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Taste a bit of the chilli and season. I think the flavours improve with time so making it the day before you are going to enjoy it is always a good plan.