Ultimate Chilli

The best Chilli con Carne

There are few things as welcome and comforting as a bowl of chilli.  A big pot just gets better and better as you go through the rice, baked potatoes, wraps stages and if there’s any left, or you just can’t face it on the fourth night, the filling makes a great a empanadilla that can be baked from frozen when unexpected visitors turn up at short notice.

Minced beef is the norm but diced chuck, or even shin has more flavour and provides a little texture, even after prolonged cooking.

I’ve only visited Mexico once, very briefly, many years ago and I had a lot of mushy beans, vegetable and rice burrito type things, all fairly spicy but not containing a lot of meat.  Chilli-con-carne is very much a Tex-Mex thing and in typical fashion, they replaced most of the vegetables and beans with beef. In fact, just north of the border, they took out the beans altogether and called it, simply, ‘red’, probably because of the heat. Apparently, as you travel further north the beans make a reappearance but, for me, there are never enough - nor anywhere near enough vegetables. Onions, tomatoes and carrots are a gimme but there’s plenty of room for red peppers and butternut squash which make it a little more Mexican. The preferred heat level is obviously subjective but a good starting point is frying the onions and carrots in some of our nduja and adding chilli as it cooks. You can always add more but you can’t take it out.

 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
 10 ½ tsp tsps ground cumin
 2 tsp tsps dried oregano
 1 tsp cinnamon
 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
 5 cloves of garlic (roughly chopped)
 500 g braising beef, chuck works well, roughly chopped into 1-2cm chunks
 3 tbsp olive oil
 1 tsp cumin seeds
 1 tsp coriander seeds
 half a red chilli (or more if you like it hot), thinly sliced
 150 g BFS nduja
 2 Spanish onions, cut into large dice
 2 carrots, cut into small dice
 1 kg butternut squash – cut into large dice, tossed in a little olive oil and roasted until soft
 1 jar of roasted red peppers, drained and diced
 800 g (x2) tins of chopped tomatoes
 500 g red kidney beans, soaked overnight in cold water and boiled for fifteen minutes until they just have a bit of bite left
 ½ tsp smoked paprika (hot if you like it)
 1 tsp salt
1

Put the dried chilli, ground cumin, oregano, cinnamon, thyme and half the garlic into a dish and add the beef. Turn the meat to coat and leave in the fridge to marinate for a few hours - overnight if possible.
Heat the olive oil in a deep stew pot over a medium heat and gently fry the cumin and coriander seeds for a few minutes until you start to smell them. Turn up the heat, stir in the beef and fry on all sides. Spoon back into the mixing bowl and add the nduja. Move it around until it starts to melt and add the fresh chilli, remaining garlic, Spanish onions, and carrots and keep stirring until the onions are transparent and the carrots softening - about 15-20 minutes.
Return the beef and tip in the chopped tomatoes and red peppers and gently simmer for 40 minutes before adding the kidney beans and roast squash.
Pour in enough water to just cover, and simmer for an hour with the lid on.
Stir in the paprika and a little more ground cumin to spritz it up a bit, take the lid off and simmer for another hour, until the meat is tender to the point of disintegrating and it’s become quite thick. Give it a good stir to break up the meat.
Serve with the usual suspects; yoghurt, lime wedges, guacamole, onions steeped in lime juice and grated cheese (if you must). As mentioned, rice, baked potatoes and wraps or quesadillas all work well.
Chilli and cheese empanadillas
Originally, mainly seafood filled, little pies from Galicia in Spain have travelled the world with both crust and filling adapted to local ingredients. In fact, once you start thinking Chinese Jiaozi and Polish Pierogi, maybe they don’t come from Galicia at all! One place where they've definitely evolved from their Iberian ancestors is Argentina where, not surprisingly, beef is the most common filling. Beef and vegetable chilli probably isn’t that traditionally Argentinian but you can up the authenticity level by serving with Chimichurri sauce.
Add about 20% grated cheddar and you’ll need an approximately equal amount of pastry to filling. For the pastry mix 3 parts flour with one part each of white wine and hot water – plus a pinch of salt. To make the empanadillas; take a sausage sized piece of pastry and roll into a thin disc. You should virtually be able to see through. Place a tablespoon (25g) filling just off centre and fold over the pastry. Seal with fingers and cut. An upturned BFS soup container makes a good cutter. Glaze with milk or egg and bake at 200ﹾC for 20 minutes or deep fry. They bake well straight from the freezer.

Ingredients

 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
 10 ½ tsp tsps ground cumin
 2 tsp tsps dried oregano
 1 tsp cinnamon
 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
 5 cloves of garlic (roughly chopped)
 500 g braising beef, chuck works well, roughly chopped into 1-2cm chunks
 3 tbsp olive oil
 1 tsp cumin seeds
 1 tsp coriander seeds
 half a red chilli (or more if you like it hot), thinly sliced
 150 g BFS nduja
 2 Spanish onions, cut into large dice
 2 carrots, cut into small dice
 1 kg butternut squash – cut into large dice, tossed in a little olive oil and roasted until soft
 1 jar of roasted red peppers, drained and diced
 800 g (x2) tins of chopped tomatoes
 500 g red kidney beans, soaked overnight in cold water and boiled for fifteen minutes until they just have a bit of bite left
 ½ tsp smoked paprika (hot if you like it)
 1 tsp salt

Directions

1

Put the dried chilli, ground cumin, oregano, cinnamon, thyme and half the garlic into a dish and add the beef. Turn the meat to coat and leave in the fridge to marinate for a few hours - overnight if possible.
Heat the olive oil in a deep stew pot over a medium heat and gently fry the cumin and coriander seeds for a few minutes until you start to smell them. Turn up the heat, stir in the beef and fry on all sides. Spoon back into the mixing bowl and add the nduja. Move it around until it starts to melt and add the fresh chilli, remaining garlic, Spanish onions, and carrots and keep stirring until the onions are transparent and the carrots softening - about 15-20 minutes.
Return the beef and tip in the chopped tomatoes and red peppers and gently simmer for 40 minutes before adding the kidney beans and roast squash.
Pour in enough water to just cover, and simmer for an hour with the lid on.
Stir in the paprika and a little more ground cumin to spritz it up a bit, take the lid off and simmer for another hour, until the meat is tender to the point of disintegrating and it’s become quite thick. Give it a good stir to break up the meat.
Serve with the usual suspects; yoghurt, lime wedges, guacamole, onions steeped in lime juice and grated cheese (if you must). As mentioned, rice, baked potatoes and wraps or quesadillas all work well.
Chilli and cheese empanadillas
Originally, mainly seafood filled, little pies from Galicia in Spain have travelled the world with both crust and filling adapted to local ingredients. In fact, once you start thinking Chinese Jiaozi and Polish Pierogi, maybe they don’t come from Galicia at all! One place where they've definitely evolved from their Iberian ancestors is Argentina where, not surprisingly, beef is the most common filling. Beef and vegetable chilli probably isn’t that traditionally Argentinian but you can up the authenticity level by serving with Chimichurri sauce.
Add about 20% grated cheddar and you’ll need an approximately equal amount of pastry to filling. For the pastry mix 3 parts flour with one part each of white wine and hot water – plus a pinch of salt. To make the empanadillas; take a sausage sized piece of pastry and roll into a thin disc. You should virtually be able to see through. Place a tablespoon (25g) filling just off centre and fold over the pastry. Seal with fingers and cut. An upturned BFS soup container makes a good cutter. Glaze with milk or egg and bake at 200ﹾC for 20 minutes or deep fry. They bake well straight from the freezer.

Ultimate Chilli
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