I don’t remember when I first had Chilli Con Carne. It certainly wasn’t whilst growing up, as there were only two dishes made with mince in our household – Mince with oats and vegetables, a rich, creamy comforting dish and Curry, made with curry powder, sultanas and occasionally pineapple, a typical seventies concoction. At the time I thought both were delicious, although I have my doubts about the curry now. There seemed to be rules about what mince could be used for, definitely not spaghetti bolognese, that would be extravagant. Rarely shepherd’s pie and I’m not sure I’d heard of chilli con carne.
Chilli Con Carne was a wine bar special when I was a student. Huge bowls brimming with rich flavourful beef, not much chilli to speak of, we weren’t a chilli nation then, but plenty of spices. Guacamole, which I always serve with mine, was in the distant future, a discovery I made when some Californian friends brought it to a picnic in Hong Kong. Sour cream was definitely missing, only used for stroganoff and bought in delis, but the deep, dark slow cooked dish was delightful, despite the missing accompaniments. This is my version of that Wine Bar Chilli, tested and tweaked over the years.
Do you have a staple dish that you weren’t brought up with and how did you discover it?
How To make A Parchment Paper Cartouche
- 2 tbsp Olive oil
- 2 Large onions, finely chopped
- 2 Cloves of garlic, crushed
- 3 Small red chillies, finely chopped
- 11/2 tsp Sweet paprika
- 1 tsp Cinnamon or 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tsp Ground coriander
- 1 tsp Ground cumin
- 3 Whole cloves
- 800g Minced beef
- 2 tbsp Tomato puree
- 500 mls Red wine
- 690 mls Passata
- 500 mls Chicken stock
- 2 Bay leaves
- 400g Red kidney beans, You can double this up if you like more beans.
- 4 Squares 70% dark chocolate
- In a large pan heat the olive oil over a medium heat and add the onions, cook for 2 minutes, stirring and then add the garlic and cook for a further 3 - 5 minutes until soft and translucent. Stir from time to time to stop the garlic from burning.
- Add the chilli and all the spices and cook for a further 2 minutes stirring constantly.
- add the minced beef and break it up with a wooden spoon, allow to brown slightly and completely seperate.
- Add the tomato puree and cook for a further 2 mins, then add the red wine. cook for 7 minutes and add the passata, stir well.
- Finally add the stock and bay leaves, give a final stir and turn the heat down very low. Make a cartouche (A paper cover, see diagram in post) and put on top of the chilli and place the lid on.
- Cook for 2 hours on very low. There should just be a slight blip on the surface not big bubbles.
- After 2 hours remove the lid and the cartouche, turn the heat up to a good simmer and leave the chilli to reduce for about 20 - 30 mins. The chilli will look rich, thick and fragrant by now.
- Add the kidney beans and stir and then add the chocolate which should slowly melt into the surface.
- Cook for a further 15 minutes and serve in bowls with sour cream, guacamole and crispy salted tortilla chips.