I love Texmex food- I think you’d be hard pushed to find anyone who doesn’t at least like the stuff. Comforting rice or corn, filling, delicious meat, rich tomatoey sauces and warming spice; Tex Mex is the real deal, and great comfort food. I love how hearty and filling it is, yet how light and summery those same flavours can be.
I hated spicy food growing up, and I was the fussiest eater known to man. I started growing out of it, weirdly, when I got my first rats. I’d buy vegetables for them and think, hey, if it’s good enough for them… and once the first hurdle was passed my attitude changed. When it came to new foods I figured, hey, if I don’t like it, I won’t eat any more of it. I’m sure glad I became more adventurous, even if I did miss years of delicious veggies and tasty spicy meals. My mum did most of the cooking when I was a kid, but both my parents could cook a really hearty chilli, usually out of a repurposed Spag Bol. I love my bolognese too much to change it, except into a lasagne, so these days when I cook my super tasty and aromatic chilli, it’s from scratch and to purpose.
I’m pretty sure quote unquote “traditional” chilli doesn’t have red kidney beans in it, but mine does. My parents’ always did, and I love the buttery, nutty texture of the beans. It probably also doesn’t have fresh carrots, or peppers, but again, my ‘family’ recipe always had carrots in from the bolognese sauce, and I love the colour and flavour the fresh peppers bring to the dish. Also, you know, vegetables. They’re kinda good for you and stuff. Looking at the recipe below, there are loads of ingredients, yes, but this is really a simple dish to make, promise.
Chilli Con Carne
- 2 medium onions
- 4 medium carrots
- 2 peppers (green and red, or red and yellow… two different ones!)
- Splash of olive oil
- 500g minced beef
- 1-2tsp chilli powder
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp paprika
- A smidge of cayenne pepper- no more than a 1/4 tsp
- 1 1/2 tsp oregano
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tin/400g chopped tomatoes
- 2 beef stock cubes dissolved in 1 1/2 mugs of boiling water (approximately 300ml), or the same of strong beef stock
- 1 tin/400g kidney beans
Chop your onions and get them sweating in the oil over the medium to high heat.
Next chop your carrots into half moons, adding to the pan as you go.
Finally chop up your peppers and add them to the mix. Sweat the vegetables off together for about 5-7 minutes, making sure they don’t catch.
Measure out your spices- use your favourite chilli powder, and go as hot as you dare. This is also a good time to put the kettle on. Add the spices to the pan and stir them through the vegetables over the heat to warm them.
Add your meat and with the spoon break it up, turning it through the vegetables as it browns. Add a pinch of salt and a couple of pepper.
Dissolve the stock in the water. Add the tomatoes to the pan and rinse the tin out with a splash of stock. Add this to the pan, followed by the rest of the stock. Stir through.
Let the mixture simmer for 20-30 minutes, checking it and stirring it every 10-15 minutes to ensure it doesn’t catch. Taste and adjust the seasoning (chilli, salt and pepper) to taste.
When the mixture is nearly reduced enough, drain and rinse your beans and stir them into the sauce. Cook for a further 5-10 minutes.
Serve with rice or a jacket potato, plenty of cheese and sour cream.
This Chilli is so rich and flavoursome and comforting I can eat it cold in sandwiches. It’s also a great filling for quesadillas and stuffed peppers, and scrummy on nachos. It’s such a joy to make because it’s so easy- all the stages of prep fit in to one another so perfectly and it doesn’t take too long to thicken and finish. This is a great recipe for students, newbie cooks, those feeding hungry kids and teens and even for a single career-girl in her mid twenties like me- extra portions freeze perfectly. This recipe yields a good five portions, seven more modest ones, so it’s a lovely thing to throw together for friends for a chilled out tea together. Like I said earlier in the post, I think the bright spice flavours make this lovely for summer (whether on the jacket or in lettuce wraps!) yet warm and cosy for winter (with lots of rice or potatoes). Of course, it’s easy to customise too- you can swap the beef out for turkey mince or Quorn mince for a start. If you love garlic, feel free to add some minced cloves in with the onions, and you can replace the dried chilli powder for two fresh chillies, or add both for a really potent mix.