Chilli con carne is one of the easiest but tastiest meals you can make and serve en masse to your friends & family but it’s also the easiest to make really bland. It doesn’t take much effort to make a belter, it’s pretty cheap, for the amount of meals you can make and tastes great frozen and reheated at work of if you’re busy on weekday evenings.
My tweak on this classic serves 4-6 decent portions, takes about 20 minutes to prepare, an hour or so to simmer and minutes to wolf down afterwards!
700g minced beef
1 large / 2 medium onions
1 x fresh pepper (any colour)
1 x small tin sweetcorn
2-3 large celery sticks
1 x 400g tin kidney beans
1 x 400g tin sweetcorn (optional but nice!)
1 x 400g tin chickpeas (optional but nice!)
1 x 200g jar of green olives (optional but highly recommended)
400g basmati rice
Bags of tortillas, tubs of salsas, sour cream for sides (optional!)
Olive oil / chilli oil
2 x tins chopped tomatoes
1/2 a tube of tomato purée
3-4 teaspoons lazy garlic (2-3 cloves of garlic)
A good few squirts of Sriracha hot chilli
A few spoons of “Scotch Bonnet” sauce, (sounds hotter than it is but really tasty)
A few pinches of sea salt, black pepper
2 / 3 spoons of paprika, cayenne pepper
2 spoons sweetener / 3 spoons sugar
For the hot heads, I use a combination of “Spontaneous combustion” & Blair’s hot sauces to give it extra kick. Use sparingly but if you do add them early, it settles down and spreads throughout the chilli giving it a really nice depth. Fresh chillies, scotch bonnets, naga chillies and so on all give a different flavour but that great kick, so add these depending on the strength you want, chopped finely into the mix!
Get your big pan out, heat up some olive oil / chilli oil and dice the onion. Don’t worry about any of the chopping on this recipe, it doesn’t matter how neatly you prepare, it’ll all taste the same! When the oil’s sizzling, throw in the onion, the mince and give it a good stir, let it cook until the meat is no longer pink with a nice brown colour.
Chop a lime into 1/8ths, squeeze the juices from the first few, then chuck the rest in for good measure. (Remember to take them out when serving but they give a bit of zing to the chilli not many people seem to add.) Next, I add a couple pinches of sea salt & black pepper and a few spoons of paprika & cayenne pepper all over the chilli, giving it a good stir. If you’re adding fresh chillies, now is the time as all the flavour soaks into the meat early on.
I tend to shake some sweetener over the top and mix in now, it takes away the bitter, sharp edge from the tomatoes & lime but keeping the flavours. Some people use chocolate or cocoa powder for the same effect, giving it a nice dark flavour but I tend to use one or the other.
Give the Sriracha a good few squirts again all over the mix, and a few big dollops of the scotch bonnet sauce for the kick. If you have time, Tesco sell both of these sauces in the world food aisles, the Sriracha comes in huge bottles for about £3 and the yellow scotch bonnet comes in at less than a quid. Absolute necessities in this meal, even if you don’t want it too spicy, just use less!
Leave the pan on almost full heat, sizzling the flavours together, while you chop the mushrooms and peppers and throw them in with the chopped olives, then top off with kidney beans, chickpeas, sweetcorn, the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree and give it a good stir. Now it looks like a chilli! Add a lid (if you have one), bring the heat down to a simmer and leave for an hour or so.
Boil some rice until it’s nice and fluffy and either serve onto plates with the rice in a ring around the edge and the chilli in the middle or for that tapas’ style, all-sharing feel, stick the pan in the middle of the table with the rice in a bowl to the side. I’m a huge fan of home-made salsas, sour cream, guacamole, tortillas, wraps and Corona’s, so mix and match them and serve on the table side-by-side with the main meal so everyone can tuck in and enjoy..