Sunday, 13 October 2013
In times of crisis, go back to what you know. Chilli con Carne
I say 'crisis', but it's all relative and my type of crisis is nothing compared to some in the world - and at this point can I encourage you to give as much as you can to the likes of the Red Cross, Oxfam and UNICEF and other tremendous organisations who I try to support on a regular basis because of their great work with the needy. It's important to know sometimes that the world does not end at your front door. Anyway, that said, my 'crisis' should probably be re-categorised as 'minor hiccup' and it's all about the fact that there has been too much of mum going to Iceland (or insert any other frozen food shop/ freezer aisle of a supermarket here) and whilst I alluded to the fact in my last blog post that my love affair with a Birds Eye chicken pie really does go on and actually I don't mind battered fish, oven chips and beans, I really should be cooking something of a weekend to sustain us through the week, using fresh ingredients and just a little bit of effort. And the fact is, for me at least, it is not just about food that is good for you, but food that is good for my soul. Cooking actually de-stresses me; just a shame that my job doesn't allow me that time to de-stress, hence my regular visits to the supermarket for something that was made earlier.
So this weekend I went back to what I know, and have spent the last four hours creating those go to dishes; those crowd pleasers that you can make a vat of and it tastes so much better the next day and the day after. Shepherds' pie x 2 have been cooked and fridged, a ragu of some sad looking stuff in the vegetable drawer of the fridge has been concocted and there is a chicken casserole blipping away in the oven (and who knows, I might throw a lid of pastry over it later in the week and pretend it was made by Birds Eye) but the success is the chilli. Parties in my youth were centred around a chilli, ladled out over some fluffy rice, containing enough ballast to soak up any alcohol excess, and it is the sort of food that almost makes you glad about the onset of winter, as you curl up on the couch, hugging a bowl of the stuff, watching it go dark earlier and earlier. And it tastes good the next day. And if you're going to make one serving of it, you may as well make several, so on we go.
This is a doubled up recipe from 'Ministry of Food' by Jamie Oliver. Other chillis are available.
Chilli con Carne, adapted from Jamie's 'Ministry of Food' by Jamie Oliver
Serves Lola, Finn, Mum and Dad twice. (Please note, I doubled the ingredients below to feed 12 people - and us for a long, long time!)
2 medium onions
2 cloves garlic
2 medium carrots
2 sticks celery
2 red peppers (didn't use)
1 heaped teaspoon chilli powder
1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
1 heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon
freshly ground black pepper
400 g tinned chickpeas
400 g tinned red kidney beans
2 x 400 g tinned chopped tomatoes
500 g quality minced beef
1 small bunch fresh coriander
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Peel and finely chop the onions, garlic, carrots and celery.
Halve the red peppers, (if using) remove the stalks and seeds and roughly chop.
Place your largest casserole-type pan on a medium high heat. Add 2 glugs of olive oil and all your chopped vegetables.
Add the chilli powder, cumin and cinnamon with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Stir every 30 seconds for around 7 minutes until softened and lightly coloured.
Add the drained chickpeas, drained kidney beans and the tinned tomatoes.
Add the minced beef, breaking any larger chunks up with a wooden spoon. (Should just say, I browned my mince first in a separate pan. I am not a fan of grey looking mince).
Fill one of the empty tomato tins with water and pour this into the pan. Pick the coriander leaves and place them in the fridge.
Finely chop the washed stalks and stir in.
Add the balsamic vinegar and season with a good pinch of salt and pepper.
Bring to the boil and turn the heat down to a simmer with a lid slightly askew for about an hour, stirring every now and again to stop it catching.
Serve with rice and all the other accompaniments you might like. No guacamole fans here unfortunately, but we do open a bag of Doritos and dive in!