I’m a sucker for a good chilli, not too beany, full of flavour and options for serving. You can serve this in a bowl with toppings, in a wrap, over corn chips, in a taco salad or just over a bit of white rice. I’ve adapted this recipe as a quick, midweek, family meal that can be used in different ways over a couple of days.
I tend to make my own chilli powder (little dash of this, little dash of that, into the pot), but you can use your favourite pre-mix from a packet.You can save your family from anti-caking agents and colours by using your own spice mix, so I’ve provided my mix below. Please feel free to stick to your own methods though, if you prefer to use a little veg oil when browning and a packet of chilli spice mix – no judgement here!
I use frozen veg (F) and tins, even squeezy tubes of coriander if I don’t have time to chop. There are a couple of ingredients that are optional, mostly because they may not be readily available in the UK. That being said, before I left, places like Tesco and Sainsbury’s were offering decent Mexican food selections, so you may luck out!
As with most of my recipes, I like to be in control of oil, salt, sugar and additives, so I’ll offer tips to avoid packet mixes and too much of the yuck that comes with ready meals. If you can get your hands on a nice, deep, non-stick pot, you won’t need oil for browning the beef.
My kids love this dish in a tortilla wrap with cheese; my husband and I prefer to dash some hot sauce in our bowl of chilli and top it with cheese and crème fraîche, or soured cream, and a handful of corn chips. It’s also awesome on a jacket potato, and who doesn’t love a homemade chilli dog?
- 1lb minced beef (half a kilo or so). Vegetarians could use Quorn or just extra beans.
- 1 cup chopped white onion (F)
- 1 TB chopped/minced garlic (I buy massive jars to keep in the fridge)
- 1 small tin (7oz/198g) diced green chilies, mild and fire roasted if you can find them (OPTIONAL) (I used to just hand chop long green chilies that I found at my local high street market)
- 1-2 TB chilli spice mix (I use dry cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, garlic, chipotle chilli – you may find peri peri easier to find – and cinnamon)
- 1.5 tins of crushed tomato (A tin is usually 400g. In the US, I use 3 8oz tins)
- 1 cube dry beef stock or 1 TB concentrated beef stock (Knorr have fab little jelly pots of beef stock that work well)
- 1 cup shredded/grated carrot
- 1 small tin cannellini beans (That’s about 200g or 8oz. You could use a large 400g tin if you like lots of beans. If you prefer kidney beans, go for it, but I’m not a fan of the skins on them)
- 2 heaped tsp cane sugar
- 1 cup roughly chopped fresh coriander/cilantro (seems like a lot, but really it’s just two handfuls. Alternatively, use 1 TB of squeezy tube or a large chunk of frozen chopped)
- 1-2 TB refried beans from a tin
- Dash of Worcestershire Sauce (OPTIONAL at the end)
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 2 cups shredded cheese (or more!). I prefer non-greasy cheeses like double Gloucester or Red Leicestershire as a topping.
- A few TB crème fraîche or soured cream (OPTIONAL topping, but so delicious, it’s worth a try)
- Salted corn tortilla chips (Optional, but yummy)
- 2-4 flour tortillas (Optional, if your kids like a wrap, like mine. You can use white rice if you prefer, and you can make a pot while the chilli is cooking)
I use a deep, non-stick pot for this dish, and keep the lid handy. It’s like a camel – it will spit!
Spread the chopped onion across the bottom of the pot over a high heat. If using frozen, add the onions before turning on the heat, and then go about gathering your other ingredients so they thaw a bit.
Add the minced beef and garlic, and give it all a good mix to combine. You won’t need oil if you’re using a non-stick base.
If you’ve managed to find some mild green chilies, now is the time to add these beauties – for depth of flavour, not heat.
If you want to make your own spice mix, put them all together is a little dish as follows, in order of quantity (but adjust to your own taste): Almost 1 tsp cumin, then slightly less paprika, oregano, garlic, a tiny dash of chipotle chille (or peri-peri if you like) and an even tinier dash of cinnamon. The cinnamon really goes a long way, so tread lightly.
As everything starts heating up and producing liquid (try to go for low-fat content beef), add the spice mix you’ve just made or your packet mix.
As the onions, beef and minced garlic brown up, and the dry spices dry up the liquid, stir pretty continuously (especially if you haven’t used oil). Have your tins of tomato at the ready to dump in, and reduce the temp before burning.
Add the tomato and reduce the heat to medium. Give the mixture a good stir and cover it. Mind the spitting!
Add the dry, crushed stock cube or concentrated stock (no water added), drained can of cannellini beans and the shredded carrot.
Sprinkle in the sugar (to taste, but man that’s a lot of tomato, so be generous, it’s still less than ready made), a splash of water (only about a ¼ cup), give the mixture a good last stir, reduce the heat to med-low and cover.
If you have fresh coriander, give it a good rinse, remove the lower stalks, but don’t worry about the upper stalks between leaves. I roll up the coriander in a little sausage before finely chopping along the tube for a rough chop in seconds. The upper stalks will add flavour without being stringy, so don’t worry about separating leaves from the stalk.
Add the coriander/cilantro and mix in well before re-covering.
The carrots will soften, the tomato will mellow and the beans will virtually disappear over the next ten minutes. Keep the kettle handy in case you feel like another drop of water will help soften the carrots or prevent bottom sticking, but try not add too much.
After about 15 minutes, the chilli will have reduced a bit, but it’s still likely to be a bit more liquid than we’d like. This is where the refried beans come in. Stir in the refried beans a little at a time to help thicken the mixture, mellow the tomato and spices, and add fibre.
Give it a little taste and add salt and pepper if you like. Again, it’s a lot of tomato, so salt is likely necessary, but remember, it’s also in the beef stock and refried beans. I add a dash of Worcestershire sauce, as well as salt at this point, and give it good stir. There’s something about the Worcester that brings out the beef!
This chilli can carry on cooking, unattended, on very low heat, until you’re ready to eat, but it’ll be ready in half an hour, no problem.
In a cereal/salad sized bowl, mix the following:
- 2 scoops (about 1 cup) of the chilli from the pot
- A generous handful (about ½ cup) shredded cheese
- 1 tsp crème fresh or soured cream
This instantly cools the chilli, mellows any spices they may be adverse to, and makes a handy all-in-one burrito filler that avoids the cheese falling out! Spread the mixture onto a tortilla, wrap it up and cut (or don’t) depending on your kid’s fondness for forks. If there’s a little left over, it’s perfect for dipping tortilla chips for mom bites.
My hubby and I have a bowl of chilli with a handful of cheese, dab of crème fraîche and some crunched up tortilla chips on top. Great for next day lunches over a jacket potato or with a salad. We’ve even made nachos with tortilla chips and cheese for a heavenly snack. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!