Chilli and Baked Potatoes

Posted By Kerri

If we have a Saturday at home, we usually like to take the opportunity to cook something new. We were at home today but we had a long list of chores to get through and needed something that would sit happily in the oven while we got on with other things. The other thing is that cooking new things is all well and good but if you spend every spare minute doing that, you never get to eat your old favourites. Chilli with baked potatoes is definitely a favourite, especially in this kind of weather so, early this morning, we got on with this and then left it on a low heat for the rest of the day. It’s definitely better if you can cook it the day before you eat it but the long, slow cooking is not a bad option if you don’t have time for that. And really, who has time to cook chilli on a Friday night when there’s wine to be drunk and end-of-week celebrating to be done?

We mostly followed this recipe, but reduced some of the spicing since last time it was a bit too powerful. We also used beef mince this time and avocado leaves in place of bay leaves since we’ve had some in the cupboard since the last time I went to Borough market and haven’t used them. What they added I’m not sure but at least I won’t feel so guilty about not using them every time I open the cupboard now.

In place of the chilli powder, we used some dried chillies, rehydrated and then blitzed in the food processor with a little water. These are great for adding a sweet, smoky note and are fresher and more alive than the powder (the chipotle chilli powder is really good if you can find it though, we buy ours from Whole Foods or Borough market but you can buy it online too).

The other thing we did differently was to put this in the oven once it had come up to the boil, where we left it for about five hours. The reason we did this is because we needed to go out and didn’t want to leave the gas on. It was a good solution but, even better than that, it gave the chilli a wonderful baked texture that was similar to that of lasagne or cottage pie. Something we’ll definitely do again.

So, what I thought was our perfect chilli con carne recipe seems to have evolved again. I wonder if we’ll ever get it just right or if we’ll continue to play around with the recipe?

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
1 tsp ground cumin
1.5 tsp ground coriander
5 black peppercorns
1 clove
1 tsp chipotle chilli powder (or dried chillies, rehydrated and blitzed to a paste with water)
1.5 tsps ground cinnamon
1 tsp smoked paprika or 1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp dried oregano

2 tbsp tomato purée
500g red kidney beans (or any combination of similar sized beans)
500g minced beef
1 large onion, finely chopped
Bay leaf (or avocado leaves)
250ml dark beer
600ml beef stock (plus more boiling water as the sauce cooks, if required)
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tblsp Worcestershire sauce

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.

In a large pan, brown the 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 beans, the rehydrated chillies, stock, tomatoes, a dash of Worcestershire sauce and season with black pepper. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and then transfer to the oven for five hours on 150 degrees.

Just before the end of the cooking time, add the cocoa powder and cook for another five minutes. Season with salt and 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).

Oct 24th, 2010

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