The Ultimate Chilli Con Carne – Take Two

Posted By Kerri

I should probably start by saying that this wasn’t an attempt to create something authentically Mexican (indeed, many would argue that no such dish exists in Mexican cooking) but more a convenient way of turning some cheap beef skirt I found in Waitrose on Easter Monday into something interesting.

It was also a good opportunity to fine-tune our Ultimate Chilli Con Carne either. We’ve been playing around with this recipe for a while and while I think we’ve got it just how we like it, some things I’ve read online recently prompted me to try some different methods this time. Most notably they were the addition of a charred, green pepper, some sweet paprika alongside the smoked we already used, some oregano, beer instead of red wine and a green chilli as well as the usual red. I also increased the amount of cinammon, since I’d noted in my last attempt that there was a lack of sweetness.

Of course, with so many changes and additions, it wasn’t going to be easy to work out exactly what had improved/declined but I didn’t have the patience to cook several batches. I’d foolishly only bought 500g of beef too which, given it had been reduced to £1.49 was a huge oversight on my part.

What I was hoping for was a fully-flavoured dish with varying levels of flavour which I aimed to create by intensely browning the seasoned meat, roasting the garlic, chillies and pepper, toasting the spices and caramelising the tomato puree. Seasoning as I went along too. I wanted it to be hot but not so hot that the spices did’t come through. I wanted a sweet note in there too, hence the caramelisation of the tomato puree and the increase in the cinammon. I also knew I needed to cook the whole thing for a long time so that the beef skirt was tender.

And that’s pretty much what I ended up with. I think I overdid the paprika and I definitely added too much cocoa powder at the end but otherwise this was a well-rounded, deeply flavoured dish with just the right layers of flavour I was looking for.

The recipe looks very long but a lot of it happens at the same time and it’s mostly the spice mix that takes the time. You could obviously substitute the beef skirt for minced beef if you can’t get it or just use beans, the cooking times would need to be reduced if you did that though.

Chilli Con Carne
Serves Four

4 tbsp olive oil

1 large green chilli, roasted, deseeded and pulped
1 red chilli, roasted, deseeded and pulped
4 garlic cloves, roasted and then pulped

1 green pepper, charred and then finely chopped

Spice Mix
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
5 black peppercorns
1 clove
1 tsp chipotle chilli powder
1.5 tsps ground cinnamon
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp dried oregano

2 tbsp tomato purée

500g red kidney beans

Flour (for browning)
Salt and pepper
500g beef skirt, diced

1 large onion, finely chopped

Bay leaf
250ml dark beer
600ml beef stock (plus more boiling water as the sauce cooks, if required)
400g tin chopped tomatoes
Worcestershire sauce (about a tablsepoon)

1 tsp cocoa powder

To Serve
Juice of half a lime
Handful of chopped coriander

Roast the chilli and garlic in the over for about 20 minutes, on 190 degrees, before leaving them to cool down. Remove the seeds from the chilli and squash together with the garlic.

Blacken the pepper on top of the hob (if you have a gas hob, otherwise roast in the oven) and then transfer to a plastic bag to steam for a few minutes. Remove from the bag, skin, deseed and then chop finely.

At the same time, toast the coriander and cumin in a frying pan on a low heat, for about 10 minutes. Once cooled, grind them up with some black pepper and a clove and transfer to a bowl, add the other powdered spices.

While both these things are happening, cook the beans (soaked overnight) for 20 minutes, rinse and put aside until later on.

In a large pan, brown the seasoned meat and remove to a plate. This took about 20 minutes. In the same pan, add some more oil and soften the onions for about five to 10 minutes. Then add the pulped garlic and chilli, the bay leaf and the diced pepper and cook for another five minutes.

Add the powdered spices and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the tomato puree and cook for two minutes. Return the meat to the pan and combine with the spice paste. Deglaze with the beer, then follow with the stock, tomatoes, a dash of Worcestershire sauce and more seasoning. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 1.5 hours, checking there is enough water as you go along.

After 1.5 hours, add the beans and cook for a further 1.5 hours. Just before the end of the cooking time, add the cocoa powder and cook for another five minutes. Serve with a squeeze of lime and a handful of chopped coriander stirred through (if you’re making this the day before then add the lime juice and coriander just before serving)

Apr 7th, 2010

8 Comments to 'The Ultimate Chilli Con Carne – Take Two'

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  1. Looks brilliant and that skirt steak was a bargain
    .-= gourmet chick´s last blog ..La Fromagerie =-.

  2. Niamh said,

    Oh, I like the idea of the beer in your Chilli Con Carne! Looks like a great recipe.
    .-= Niamh´s last blog ..Recipe: Home Cured Salmon =-.

  3. Jeff said,

    Worked out really well. I used red wine instead of beer and cooked it in the oven as it was already on to do the chilli and garlic. Came out really well.

  4. Kerri said,

    I’m glad you enjoyed it, Jeff. We usually use red wine too but I did like the difference the beer made. I thought about cooking in the oven this time too but wasn’t sure of the timings, it’s a good idea though.

  5. Gareth said,

    What kind of beer did you use – do you think different varieties might make a difference? A stout or something strong like Theakstons Old Peculier maybe?

  6. Kerri said,

    I used Innis and Gunn this time, Gareth. I think different beers would definitely affect the flavour but perhaps not always in a positve way, I can imagine stout being quite bitter which would be fine if you balanced it with sweetness elsewhere but might be too harsh otherwise.

  7. Gareth said,

    Old Peculier is quite sweet – it might work. Hmmmm. I may experiment. I can always drink whats left!

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