Taking the mystery and fear out of cooking
Ah, chilli con carne. Sounds quite fancy, doesn’t it?
Chilli is the hot stuff. It comes as fresh peppers, dried and chopped or – stroke of luck for us – as powder. GET SOME (hot, not mild - if it’s too hot, use less next time). Carne is Spanish for meat. ALWAYS HAVE SOME MINCE IN THE FREEZER. Beef or lamb (you see turkey sometimes but it’s got a very strong flavour and can take things over, so it’s not the best option).
This recipe makes enough for today and three or four portions to freeze.
In the time it takes Chelsea to go 2-0 up against Barcelona, you’ll have enough chilli to last most of the week.
Garlic if you like.
Cooking oil (sunflower maybe – nothing fancy)
A pack of minced beef or lamb, fresh or frozen
1 tin chopped tomatoes (one of those cans about 6″ tall)
1 small tin condensed tomato soup (optional)
2 tins red kidney beans
Stock cube (beef, lamb or chicken)
Long grain rice wholegrain (brown) or white
Defrost the mince if it’s frozen.
Cut the onion in half, lay the halves flat side down and cut one way, then crossways, until you have little fragments. Heat a little oil in a biggish pan (this stuff may spit, even when you’ve turned the heat down later). Fry the onions over a medium heat until translucent (if they go brown it’s not the end of the world). Mince, crush or chop a garlic clove or two , add it and fry for a couple of minutes.
Add the mince and break it up with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle chilli powder on the meat (about a tablespoon to start, and check later to see if you can handle some more). When the meat is cooked (it goes from the pink of raw flesh to a kind of grey/brown), splosh in a bit of red wine (quarter of a glass or so) and mix it up.
Add the tomatoes, tomato soup if you’re using it, and beans. Turn heat down and let it bubble for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Try a bit and add what you think: tomato relish or chutney, more wine, Worcestershire sauce, reggae reggae sauce, or nothing at all: it’s your dish). Keep it on a low heat while you do the rice. The longer you cook it (gently) the smoother and richer it will be, but if you’re in a hurry it will be okay as soon as the rice is done.
FOR THE RICE
Pour some into a pan and cover with cold water (for two people, one cup of rice, two cups of water, something like that). Bring to the boil, cover (with lid not closed, but at a slight angle to allow steam to escape), turn down heat and cook gently until all or most of the water is absorbed and the rice is tender. Strain if necessary.
COWBOY TIP: If it’s not thick enough, stir in some porridge oats or even crush some bran flakes and use them, but nothing too sweet or flavoured. The aim is to thicken, not alter the taste.