We have had a couple of cooler days here in Melbourne and with the lower temperatures I revel in slow cooked one pot wonders. Throw all your ingredients in the pot, leave it for a couple of hours until your ready for a full-flavoured bowl of wholesome goodness.
Generally I use chuck steak cut into bite sized pieces, particularly if I am serving it with rice. Mince beef also works well and this is my choice if I am serving with corn chips to create nachos. I mince my own beef, either topside or chuck cuts, as I like to know exactly what is in my food and mincing myself I know it is just beef.
Perhaps this is also a hangover from my first job in a supermarket, if not on the checkout I helped out in the butchers’ room, I vividly remember being sent out of the cool room as the butcher added ‘secret’ ingredients to the preservative free mince, the smell of the liquid he added was overpowering. Of course we are going back a good number of years and the regulations were non-existent. I’m certain this wouldn’t be the case today thanks to the pride producers and providers are taking in their goods and a better understanding of the importance of produce being as close to the natural state as possible, we did err from that a little in the early 80s. I definitely encourage developing a relationship with your providers, such as your butcher, being the experts they will guide you on the best cut for your budget and cooking needs.
The chuck cut has quite a lot of marbling and when braised slowly, breaks up and literally melts in your mouth. It is a cut my mother always used for her casseroles, they were her specialty and amazing, we always knew when we were having company as her casserole pot would come out. It is wonderful when taste and smell bring back warm memories of special people, family and love.
This is a recipe you choose the ratio of kidney beans to beef. Or indeed just use beans if you prefer a vegetarian option. Make it to your families taste. I do add quite alot of beans to my list below.
Soak dry beans overnight, boil for about 40 minutes before adding to the pot.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4 (big serves or plenty of leftovers)
- 750 grams Chuck Steak – dice into pieces
- 2 cups cooked red kidney beans (from 1 cup of dry and boiled) or 440g can, drained
- 1 medium onion diced into small pieces
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 can tomatoes plus optional 2 fresh tomatoes if you have on hand
- 1 tblsp tomato paste
- 2 tsp’s smoked paprika
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1 tsp dried chili or 1 or 2 small red chillies, this really depends on your tolerance for heat
To avoid adding to much heat – as once it is added it is hard to remove, if using fresh chilis test the heat on the tip of your toungue just a small about will soon show the level of heat.
- small handful of parsley for seving
- sour cream or creme fraiche for serving
- salt and pepper
- additional stock or water as required
- 2 tbspn oil for cooking
- Optional 2 small cubes of dark chocolate
Using a heavy base saucepan heat the oil and saute the onions and finely chopped or crushed garlic add a little salt as his helps release the juices, once the onions start to look translucent (there is no need to cook fully through as they will have plenty of time to complete the cooking process) add the beef pieces and brown the meat.
Add the spices, bay leaves, kidney beans, chili, tomato paste and tin of tomatoes, if the tomatoes and liquid do not cover the beans and meat add a small amount of water, stock or passata if you have on hand.
Set to simmer and leave for 60-90 minutes, during this time continue to check the level of liquid, ensure it doesnt burn and there is enough liquid to create a delicious sauce. I add the fresh tomatoes during the last 20 minutes of cooking, they add another dimension and texture. Just before you take of the heat you can add the chocolate, making sure it melts through. Give it a try it really gives the humble chili and absolute wow factor of richness.
Always taste as you go- you may well need to add pepper and salt, this is such a personal taste. If you find you have overdone the chilis adding sour cream will dull this a little.
There is no set cooking time and in fact you can take it off the heat much earlier, I find the longer the simmer the more enriched the flavours are.
Serve with rice, a spoonful of sour cream or creme faiche and a few parsley leaves (parsley gives a fresh lift to any dish)
Delicious! Chili con carne is wonderful as left overs and freezes really well to have on hand for a quick mid week meal.