Chilli con carne

Serves 8-10
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It's been years since I've made a chilli con carne, or even eaten one, come to that. I have fond memories of when I first moved to London and would pop into the Texas Lone Star in South Kensington, round the corner from our flat. It wasn't that glamorous, believe me - the flat, that is - but to four West Country boys who still had straw behind their ears, it was pretty handy for our jobs in Park Lane hotels. And the Texas Lone Star was a bit of a treat for us as we couldn't really afford to eat in proper restaurants - though we might have been able to if we'd drunk less beer. The chilli came with nachos, or jacket potatoes and melted cheese, which was comforting to young hungry lads. f

Mexican chilli con carne differs from the Texan in that it calls for diced meat as opposed to minced. There are loads of variations, and you can do it your way, with pork or beef or a mixture. I've opted for half mince and half chunky meat; one foot either side of the border, you could say.

2tbsp corn or vegetable oil
500g minced beef or pork
500g stewing beef, or pork, cut into rough 2cm chunks
2tsp ground cumin
1tbsp flour
2tsp fresh oregano, or thyme
1tbsp tomato purée
1 x 350-400g can chopped tomatoes
500g tinned red kidney beans
1 litre beef stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 onions peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
4 medium red chillies, seeded and chopped (or more, or less)

Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and fry the minced and diced beef on a high heat, stirring every so often until lightly coloured. Add the cumin, flour and tomato purée then stir in the chopped tomatoes and beef stock.

Meanwhile blend the onion, garlic and chilli in a blender with a little water until smooth, and add to the beef. Bring to the boil, season and simmer for 1 hour. Wash the kidney beans and add to the beef and continue cooking for another 45 minutes, or until the beef chunks are tender. Serve with rice, garlic bread, jacket potatoes or nachos, or for a more sophisticated twist, deep-fried plantain crisps.