When I was young and naive – back in the days when one bottle of wine was enough for me to unwind of an evening – I thought that no matter how good the ingredients or the skill of the chef, nothing would taste good if it wasn’t prepared with love. What a load of old bollocks that was and what a ridiculous little fool I was to believe in such a notion. And for the record I was little back then. Under seven and a half stone to be exact. What the hell did I know about food for God’s sake? But of course you don’t need ‘love’ to make food taste good. And the perfect evidence for this my recipe for Slow Cooked Chilli Con Carne. I prepared this a little while back for a lunch we were giving for friends. This is a great thing to cook a couple of nights ahead as it actually tastes better a day or two after it's first cooked.
Living in Central London (or St.Ockwell Village as I like to call it) can be challenging when it comes to food shopping and as I needed quite a lot of provisions (‘provisions’ – honestly, they should stick me in a time machine and let me live in the 1950s), I put in an order with a leading supermarket to be delivered to my door. Now, I don’t want to libel anyone. So I won’t mention names. But let’s just say that that this company sounds like a green fruit which forms the main composite for guacamole. But the 'A' should sound like an ‘O’. Fuck it, it was Ocado. Now we all know where we stand. Internet supermarket shopping has been a bit of a battle ground with me and the Media Gun. I’ve used them all and they’ve all let me down. Sainsbury’s couldn’t find my flat (despite me leaving my telephone number to call me for directions). Tesco just decided not to turn up at all when the snow fell. I had to call 17 times and then be on hold for an hour before I finally got through to someone who said they weren’t coming and I should have been informed. I ended up having to walk to Iceland to get my much needed food shop and despite loathing its vast array of frozen fayre I have to say that on this occasion it did save the day. That’s why snow bound London residents go to Iceland.
The Media Gun berated for me for not worshipping at the altar of Waitrose and plumping for Ocado in the first place. So on his advice I put in a large order (not a euphemism). The chap was late (minus ten points) but even worse, the main thing I needed for the recipe was missing (remember, we were having friends round? Yeah I have been going on it’s easy to forget). That’s right, the £20 worth of beef I’d ordered to mince was not there. I spat the dummy, I spent half an hour waiting to speak to Ocado customer service and was told they were sorry and if I’d like they could refund the delivery charge. FUCK THE DELIVERY CHARGE I NEED £20 WORTH OF BEEF TO MAKE THIS BLOODY MEAL WORK. So in the end, despite preparation and effort, I had to traipse out in the rain to the Sainsbury’s local in Clapham (which included having a tramp sit next to me on the bus who I think had soiled himself) to buy beef and then go home to make this meal. Let’s be clear, by the time I got round to making this there was bugger all love involved. I imagined I was mincing the head of the piss poor Ocado customer service representative when I put the beef in my KitchenAid (again not a euphemism). And it was here I realised that love isn’t an essential ingredient when putting a meal together. In fact when chucking bloody strips of flesh into a grinder perhaps anger is the magic touch which is needed. So – following that heart-warming tale, here’s how to make Slow Cooked Chilli Con Carne should you so be inclined. It’s a cracking meal to make for lots of people and you can prepare it a few days beforehand and keep in the fridge or make a massive batch and freeze.
Slow Cooked Chilli Con Carne with Crispy Potato and Cheese Topping:
- 2lb of chunk stewing beef (or 2lb of very lean minced beef)
- 1 jar of passata
- 2 crushed cloves of garlic
- 1 chilli (or more for hotter palates) chopped
- 3 beef stock cubes
- 1 large onion diced
- 3 tablespoons of tomato puree
- 2 large glasses of wine
- 2 tins of sweetcorn
- 2 tins of kidney beans
- ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
- 10 drops of tabasco
- 2 squares of high cocoa content dark chocolate
- Sliced potatoes, enough to cover the top of the chilli
- Cheddar Cheese
The first part of this recipe is a bit of a dream as it really is easy. Mince the chunked beef or if you don’t have a mincer, simply take the lean minced beef and put it in a big casserole dish. Next add the crumbled stock cubes, tomato puree, crushed garlic, chopped chilli, cinnamon, tobasco, wine and passata along with the diced onion and mix together well. Place in the oven at 160 for four to four and a half hours. Keep checking and stirring every half hour or so. If things appear to be drying up add more wine or even a cup of water. By the end of the mince should be ultra tender and flavoursome. 15 mins before the end of cooking stir in the sweetcorn, kidney beans (which have been drained and washed) and squares of chocolate. The chocolate honestly cannot be tasted (so if you’re not a chocoholic it doesn’t matter), the couple of squares of dark chocolate at the end simply seems to sharpen up the different flavours and add an extra layer of depth to the meat without overcomplicating the overall dish (do I sound like a wanker saying that? I do? I’m sorry, you’ll have to forgive me, I do tend to jump on the bus to Wanksville on occasion). Now you could just serve that with rice / potato skins / wraps and it does make a cracking meal. But on this occasion I decided to make it a one pot wonder with the addition of a crispy potato topping. Simply slice the potatos into half centimetre slices, enough to cover the top of the chilli. When the chilli is cooked, cover the top with the potatoes and brush with oil – leave them too cook up for an hour at 170 degrees and then once they feel soft and cooked through (cook for longer if hard), sprinkle with grated cheese and let the cheese melt to form a glorious fondue topping. Serve straight from the oven with fresh green salad.