Set your world on fire: Bill Granger cooks with chilli
Fresh chillis offer a potent hit, but dried chilli – well, that gives a warmth and depth that will simply blow you away, says Bill Granger.
Sunday 02 June 2013
I do like the kick of chilli and I tend to use it, along with garlic and, some would joke, coriander in the majority of my recipes.
I still remember travelling in South-east Asia in my younger days and being blown away by the bold, vibrant flavours of the street food. The potent heat of the chilli sauces of Indonesia and crunchy Thai salads hit me with such force that I might even have shed a few tears on the odd occasion.
These days I still love that smack in the face that fresh chilli can give you, but I've also learnt to keep dried chillies in my spice cupboard – crushed together, smoked paprika and chilli pepper brings a warmth and depth to dishes you can't get from fresh. The Mexicans have probably mastered the art of cooking with dried chillies better than anyone.
I have a wonderful spice shop close to my house where I can get my hands on a mind-boggling variation – ancho, chipotle, mulato. I'm loving experimenting with these, but don't worry, I don't expect you to go all exotic with your chillies just yet – all the ingredients used in the recipes here can be bought on a trip to your local supermarket.
Bill's restaurant, Granger & Co, is at 175 Westbourne Grove, London W11, tel: 020 7229 9111, grangerandco.com
Sambal is a classic South-east Asian relish, usually made using dried shrimp. Unless I happen to be passing by Chinatown to pick some up, I tend to use anchovies, which are always in my cupboard.
4 red chillies, roughly chopped
2 shallots, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 tinned anchovies, chopped
2cm ginger, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp red-wine vinegar
1 tbsp light-flavoured oil
300g/10oz raw tiger prawns, peeled
Pound the chillies, shallots, garlic, anchovies and ginger using a pestle and mortar until almost smooth. Gradually add the red-wine vinegar and continue to pound until it is incorporated into a rough paste.
Heat the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, tip in the chilli paste, fry for 2 minutes until fragrant. Add the prawns and continue to cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the prawns turn pink and are cooked through.
Remove from the heat and serve with steamed rice, hard-boiled eggs and coriander leaves.
Rigatoni with roasted arrabbiata and mozzarella
I love a bowl of pasta with a simple spicy tomato sauce, but wanting something a little bit more interesting, I recently came up with this version using fresh roasted tomatoes and milky mozzarella. Leave out the pasta and it makes the most delicious warm salad.
1½kg/3lb plum tomatoes (we used a mix of large and baby plum), halved
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 x 125g/4oz buffalo mozzarella, torn
Handful basil leaves, torn
Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas3. Put the tomatoes in a large roasting tray and scatter over the garlic and chilli. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pour over the oil and cook for 1 hour, or until the tomatoes are starting to break down.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving a cup of the pasta water. Return the pasta to the pan. Gently fold through the roasted tomatoes and any juices from the tray. Add a couple of tablespoons of pasta water and some seasoning. Stir through the mozzarella and most of the basil.
Divide the pasta between 4 plates, scatter over the remaining basil leaves and add a drizzle of olive oil before serving.
Rich beef chilli
This is not the Tex-Mex chilli we grew up eating, but my take on the much richer Mexican original, with chunks of beef and loads of warming heat. I always serve it with rice and soured cream, and if I have them handy I'll chop up some avocados to go with it.
2 tbsp olive oil
1kg/2lb rump steak, cut into 3cm cubes
2 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 red chillies, chopped
1½ tsp smoked paprika
1½ tsp hot chilli powder
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp allspice
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp tomato purée
2 x 400g/13oz cans chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 avocados, chopped
Heat half the oil in an ovenproof casserole dish over a medium heat, add the beef in batches and cook until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Add the remaining oil to the pan and cook the onion and garlic for 5 minutes, until starting to soften. Tip in the chilli and spices and fry for a further 2 minutes. Return the meat to the dish with the tomato purée, tomatoes and 450ml/16fl oz water, scraping the bottom to lift any goodness.
Season with salt and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 2 to 2½ hours, or until the meat is meltingly tender. Add the sugar and kidney beans to the chilli 15 minutes before the end of cooking.
Allow to stand for 5 minutes, scatter with coriander and serve with rice, soured cream, lemon wedges and chopped avocados, if liked.
Food preparation: Marina Filippelli and Rosie Reynolds. Props merchandising: Rachel Jukes
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