Friday, 18 November 2011

Chilli con Carne

This is a longtime favourite of mine. It's simply moorish, once you have a plateful, you want more. Guaranteed that if you make this, there will be nothing but clean plates and large grins all round! Now, i'm not entirely sure if it's authentic enough to be classed as 'Mexican' food, especially how this is being served, but i'm hoping that after having eaten it - you won't really care! :D

You will need the following ingredients:

600 grams (1.3lb) of Minced Beef (i prefer fresh, frozen seems to lose it's integrity and falls apart too easily!)
Two Large White Onions
One Can of Diced Tomato's
One Can of Kidney Beans or Pinto beans
One Clove of Crushed Garlic or a large spoon of Garlic Granules
Tomato Puree or Passata
Two OXO Cubes
Cayenne Pepper
Tabasco Sauce
225grams (8 oz) of Grated Gruyere Cheese (can use Cheddar, or whatever you want, but Gruyere melts nicely)
One Tub of Sour Cream or Creme Fraiche
One Large bag of Tortilla Chips (Cheese flavoured, if you can get them!)

Utensils needed:

Large Saucepan
Wooden Spoon
Large Pyrex Oven Dish or Similar
Sharp Knife
Chopping Board

Now, in case that list was a little on the long side, i laid out all the ingredients for you, so you can visualise it:

First things first - preheat your oven to Gas Mark 4 (350° Fahrenheit / 180° Celsius) - you'll find out why later! Now that's out the way, put a large knob of butter in the saucepan. Chop up both onions, and put in the saucepan with the garlic, and make sure you put the lid on, and turn the heat down to low - we don't want to burn the onions, just sweat them off.  

After about 10 minutes, they should be beautifully soft. At this point you want to add the minced beef, try and break it up into strands - you don't want it to clump together, if you can help it. Turn the heat up, and keep stirring every minute or two to brown the mince. Once the mince has been browned off, add the OXO cubes, crumbling them over evenly, before stirring them in. For Americans, i'm not sure of what you could use as a substitute, but if you have a Publix anywhere nearby, they *may* stock them in the 'World Foods' section, or get some off (yes, that's right, Amazon!). Anyway, after stirring, you should end up with something that looks like this:

Looks similar to the Lasagne recipe from June, right? That's cause up until now, it pretty much is...but here is where the similarities end, and i throw you a curve ball, ha! :P

Take your can of beans, and drain off the liquid, and rinse them in some cold water in a sieve. Add them to the mince, and stir in. Add the can of tomato's. Now add the tomato puree or passata - it's used to thicken the sauce, so just go with what you think looks right. Now comes the important part - spices. This recipe is adaptable, you can use as much, or as little spice, as you like. I like a chilli with a bit of a kick, but not enough to make my eyes water, so i put in 2 heaped teaspoons of paprika, and 2 heaped teaspoons of cayenne pepper, and a large slug of tabasco sauce for good measure. If you have a whole chilli you want to submerge in there, like a naga, or a habanero, go right ahead, but be VERY careful you don't overdo it, otherwise you're liable to...erm...explode! :)

Turn the heat down low once again, and simmer for roughly ten minutes to allow the spices to permeate and the sauce to thicken. End result should resemble this:

Turn the heat off, we're ready for the final phase - the topping. What's that you hear? Topping? On a Chilli?! Yes - trust me on this, it works!

Decant the chilli into your Pyrex dish (i swear the amount of this stuff i use, i should be employed as a spokesman...), and give it a little shake, to get the chilli levelled out, like this:

Open the bag of Tortilla chips, and layer them all over the top, just try not to go's always nice to have a handful while you wait, afterall ;)

Take a few heaped spoonfuls of the sour cream or creme fraiche, and dollop it into the middle of the tortilla's - not a very elegant description i know, but run with me on this. You want a reasonably thick layer, that covers almost all of the tortilla's. On top of this, take the grated Gruyere cheese, and sprinkle it alllll over. Use *ALL* of it, don't skimp!

Now put it in the oven for around 5 minutes, until the cheese melts, and starts to bubble - the tips of the tortilla's *may* get toasted, but that's perfectly okay.

Take it out of the oven and admire your handiwork:

Now my serving suggestion would be to take this, and run off to devour it all by yourself, but that's not very professional, or healthy, seeing at it should feed four people easily. Goes well with plain white rice, or a jacket potato...or even just on its own, if you fancy it.

One final thing - if you make it, i'd like you to leave a comment, and tell me how you got on, ok? :)