For me, there is much comfort to be found in having a large pot of chilli con carne bubbling away on the stove, especially since I know that many meals can be derived from this one dish. At other times, it happens to be a great dish to make if you are entertaining a small crowd.
We love to serve it with steamed Basmati rice, topped with sour cream and chives, together with a handful of chopped creamy avocadoes which have a wonderful way of melting into the warm rice.
The children, of course, love to eat chilli con carne with warmed tortilla chips, which they are only allowed to have once they have eaten a decent portion of rice. But given how much they enjoy this Mexican-inspired dish, even with the mild chilli heat, it’s usually not a problem to persuade them to finish their plate. My son loves the kidney beans so much that he often tells me to add more, and I am only happy to oblige.
I have tried many recipes for chilli con carne over the years, slowly arriving at this concoction of my own. For recipes where minced meat is the main ingredient, I like to freshly grind the meat myself using a good quality piece of beef. If you don’t have a meat grinder (I love my KitchenAid meat grinder attachment), you can ask your butcher. But, of course, there is nothing wrong with buying ready-minced meat!
If you are not feeding young children, I would add a bit more chilli powder to the pot. Otherwise, I like to serve some freshly chopped green chillies or jalapeno peppers on the side, or even pickled jalapeno peppers are delicious.
If you have a large enough pot, I would recommend making a double batch on, say, Sunday, and you will have several meals sorted throughout the busy week. One of my favourite ways of serving leftover chilli con carne is with baked potatoes – I can’t think of a more comforting meal to enjoy in the middle of the week.
- For the chilli:
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 500g (1 lb) minced beef
- ¼ teaspoon chilli powder (or add more to taste)
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon finely ground white pepper
- 4 tomatoes, largely diced
- 400g (14oz) tinned diced tomatoes
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 x 400g (14 oz) tinned kidney beans (or use just 1 tin, if you prefer), drained and rinsed
- 125ml (1/2 cup) chicken stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cinnamon stick
- sea salt & freshly ground pepper
- coriander (cilantro), finely chopped
- To serve:
- Basmati rice, cooked according to packet instructions
- 1-2 ripe avocadoes, largely diced
- 1 cucumber, largely diced
- sour cream or crème frâiche garnished with chopped chives
- fresh green chillies or jalapeno peppers, or picked jalapeno peppers
- tortilla chips, warmed in a hot oven
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan and cook the onion and garlic until they have softened.
- Turn the heat up to high and add the the minced beef. Cook until all of the meat has browned.
- Add the chilli powder, dried thyme, paprika, cumin and pepper. Cook for a few minutes.
- Add the chopped fresh tomatoes, tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, kidney beans, chicken stock, bay leaf and cinnamon stick.
- Mix everything together well and bring the mixture to a boil. Then turn the heat down to a low simmer, cover with a lid, and cook for about 1.5 hours. Give the mixture a stir every 20-30 minutes and check that the mixture is not sticking to the pan.
- After 1.5 hours, remove the lid, and continue cooking over low to medium heat. If the mixture looks too thick, add some water.
- Taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper as necessary.
- Just before serving, stir through the chopped coriander (cilantro) and sprinkle some on top for garnish.
- Serve the chilli con carne with steamed Basmati rice and the chopped avocadoes and cucumber. Garnish with green chillies or jalapeno peppers, and a dollop of sour cream or crème frâiche.
This dish keeps well in the fridge for several days, and even frozen in small portions for quick thawing and reheating.
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