Thursday, 10 October 2013

Cheap Chilli con Carne with Hidden Vegetables

If shortening days, browning leaves, chilly mornings, and fighting the urge to turn the central heating on weren't enough of a sign, I made Chilli con Carne earlier this week. And 5 year old Big Boy asked if it was winter already.

To stretch my Chilli con Carne further, as we have established the five of us can easily eat 700g of meat in a sitting, I pad this out with carrot and celery.  I used to grate them (and puree the pepper) to hide them from the kids but now I just dice them finely, or chop them in a food processor.  However when placing their bowls on the table this time I was horrified to hear Big Boy unhelpfully say to 8 year old Sprout "There's carrot in it.  You don't like carrot."  But thankfully she replied "I know but I don't mind it in this."

Serves 6
500g beef mince
1 large onion
1 large clove of garlic
1 large carrot
1 large stick of celery
1 green pepper
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp oregano
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin of recently boiled water
2 tins beans (kidney, chickpeas, baked beans, whatever!) or 250g beans, soaked and pre-cooked
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 - 1/2 tsp chilli powder (optional)
1 tbsp sunflower or olive oil
Salt & pepper

Finely chop onion and garlic and fry gently in large saucepan with the oil whilst you finely chop the other vegetables.  When these are chopped, add them to the frying pan and fry gently with a lid on for 5 minutes to soften them stirring from time to time so they don't catch on the bottom of the pan.

When the onion has softened a little, push the vegetables to the side of the pan and add the beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon.  Add the rest of the ingredients, not forgetting a canful of water and continue breaking up the mince whilst bringing it all to the boil.  The chilli powder is optional, and I often don't add it to the kids helping, adding it only after they have eaten.  I know the name of the dish is 'Chilli' con Carne but it still tastes great without it!

Once boiling, put on the lid and simmer for 30 minutes to ensure the vegetables soften and lose themselves in the sauce.  After half an hour, check the consistency.  If you like it looser you may not need to reduce it much, but if you like a more porridgey chilli boil it gently without the lid off for up to half hour again to thicken the sauce.

I usually serve ours up with rice or baked potatoes.  And a generous handful of grated mature cheddar cheese.

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