18 April 2011

winter warmers #2

Chilli's a pretty obvious choice, really, when you're thinking of something warming for those cooler winter nights.  The best thing about chilli is that it's not only tasty and guaranteed to crank your internal thermostat, but it's a base for a myriad of dishes - nachos, enchiladas, burritos, quesadillas, chilli con carne on toast, chilli beef pie, with rice, as a spicy alternative to traditional meat sauce in lasagne, the list is pretty endless, so will stop there, but if you're making anything which essentially uses a bolognaise sauce, then chilli can be your substitute. 

Now, chilli con carne can be made using any meat (the standard is beef mince, but any type of mince works, or even finely chopped chicken breast, etc), and with as many variations to the sauce as there are endings to a Woody Allen film, so I'll just give you what I do when making a basic chilli, then list some personal favourite alternatives at the end.  Muy gustoso!! 

500-750 g beef mince
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
2-3 tbsp tandoori paste (or harissa, tikka masala paste)
2 tbsp tomato paste
herbs and spices, to taste (I typically use cumin seeds, ground cumin and fresh basil)
1 tin red kidney beans
1 tin tomatoes
  1. Fry onions and garlic in a little oil.  When softened add meat and brown thoroughly. 
  2. Stir through tandoori and tomato pastes. 
  3. Add herbs/spices and tins of kidney beans and tomatoes. 
  4. Stir so all meat is coated with tomato and reduce heat to allow mixture to simmer gently for up to an hour.  Serve with dish of choice. 
Some additions which I've made in the past have been finely grated dark chocolate, and fresh chilli.  If using fresh chilli I up the tomato paste and remove the tandoori altogether. 

If you're going to eat something containing chilli con carne then, more likely than not, you'll be wanting some extras on the side (unless it's being used in a lasagne), such as sour cream, grated cheese, guacamole and salsa. 

A basic salsa just needs a tin of tomatoes (or a cup of finely chopped fresh ones), red onion, fresh herbs and a chilli, all finely chopped (omit the chilli if you don't do spicy). 

Guacamole is a chameleon, but mine is made a la Clara, with balsamic vinegar added to the mashed avo and lemon juice mix.  Mix through a finely chopped red onion too, if you want a bit of texture.  So, mes amis, stay warm and eat well.  xx A

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