Sunday, 3 March 2013

Recipe: Yet Another Chilli

Over the years, I've gone through several chilli recipes. This is the latest, and I think the best.

Ingredients

400gTinned chopped tomatoes
2T Tomato purée
4T Extra virgin olive oil
450g Beef mince
2 Chipottle dried chillies, de-seeded and finely chopped
3 Star anise
2 Onions, chopped
2 Red peppers, de-seeded and chopped into 2cm pieces
100ml Brown chicken stock (see here for this component)
75ml Red wine
200ml Water
400g Tinned kidney beans, rinsed
0.5t Salt
pinch Ground black pepper
0.5t Chilli powder (to taste)
(1T = one tablespoon = 15ml; 1t = one teaspoon = 5ml)

Method

Put the tinned chopped tomatoes and the tomato purée in a saucepan and reduce on a gentle heat.

While that's happening, heat the extra virgin olive oil in a heavy frying pan. When it is hot, add half the mince and brown it. (This may take 3 to 5 minutes depending on how wet it is. It has to fry, not just stew in its juices.) Add that browned mince to the tomatoes in the saucepan, leaving as much oil as you can behind in your frying pan. Brown the other half of the mince in the same way and add that to the saucepan too, but again leave the oil behind.

Turn the heat on your frying pan to low and add the star anise and the finely chopped chipottle chillies to the oil. Cook gently for 2 minutes, then turn the heat up to high and add the chopped onions. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes. (The onion wants to be just brown around the edges.)

Turn off the heat on your frying pan and go look for the star anise. Remember, there were three of them? Go find them and throw them away. Then tip all the contents of the frying pan (including the oil this time) into the sauce pan and mix with the tomatoes and beef.

Also add the red wine, brown chicken stock and chopped red pepper to the saucepan.

Now put the frying pan back on a high heat and pour in the water to deglaze the pan. Bring this to an enthusiastic boil and scrape all the brown bits in the pan so that they dissolve. Pour this solution into the saucepan with everything else.

Add the final ingredients to the saucepan: the rinsed tinned kidney beans, salt and pepper. I usually add half a teaspoon of chilli powder at this point too, because although the chipottle chillies have a lovely smokey taste, they aren't particularly hot.

Stir well and simmer gently for 1 hour with the lid on. Remove the lid, stir and simmer without the lid for another 30 minutes.

Discussion

You can use white wine rather than red; this works well too. (You could also deglaze the pan with the wine rather than water, and just add the water straight to the saucepan. I tend not to do that because I often use wine from the freezer, prepared in appropriately sized portions.)

You might wonder: why de-seed the chipottle chillis (reducing hotness), then add chilli powder later (increasing hotness)? Why not just leave the seeds in? Indeed. That might work out fine, I just haven't done the experiment.

Obviously for a more homespun feel you could use fresh tomatoes, but peeling and chopping those is too much trouble for me.

However, it is worth taking the trouble to use a proper stock. It's really not at all the same if you use those hopeless stock-cubes. So, at the risk of making this chilli look more frightening than really it is, here also is my recipe for a suitable stock. The stock gets made ahead of time and used in many other dishes. So in practice, when making the chilli, you just reach into the freezer and toss a few cubes of stock into the saucepan.

Component: Brown Chicken Stock

This is a relatively rustic stock, with little effort devoted to making it clear. It takes a long time, but it's not much work. Using a slow-cooker helps a lot, because it looks after maintaining a very gentle simmer for itself and you don't end up with the smell of chicken stock penetrating to every corner of the house. (Which is what seems to happen when I make stock in a stock-pot on the top of the the stove.)

Ingredients

1.2 kgChicken carcases, bones & scraps
2 Onions, quartered
1.6 litre Water

Method

Preheat oven to 200°C (= gas mark 6 = 400°F).

Spread the chicken parts out in a roasting tray with the quartered onions. Place in the oven for 30 minutes. Turn the pieces over and place in the oven for a further 30 minutes. They should be a nice golden brown.

Tip the contents of the roasting tray into a pre-heated slow cooker along with 1.3 litre of boiling water.

Deglaze the roasting tray by pouring on 300ml boiling water, heating on a hob and scraping to dissolve the brown stuff. Pour this into the slow cooker. Put the lid on and set so that it will maintain a very gentle simmer. Leave to simmer for around 4 to 6 hours (it's not critical).

Strain the contents through a fine sieve into a bowl or pan. You can strain this again through muslin if you are keen, or if you are lazy like me, you can just leave it to settle for a while and simply decant it into another container, leaving most of the fine sediment behind. (If you want to skim the fat off the top you can do it at this stage or you can put the stock in the fridge overnight and just peel it off the top tomorrow.)

You end up with about 1.2 litres of stock which you can freeze into useful sizes: I usually make some ice cubes and fill some small containers.

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