Proper Chilli

I had a recipe years ago, on a scratty bit of paper. An award-winning chilli cook-off recipe, from somewhere in Texas. The bit of paper is long gone, but Heston reminded me of how much fun it was to make, and I started again from basic principles. As follows.

Day 1, Pan 1

  • 4 rashers of pork belly, about half a kilo
  • Splash of sunflower or other light oil
  • 3 teaspoons chipotle paste
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 x 275 ml bottle lager beer

Fry the pork in the oil in an oven-proof casserole, top with the other ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for at least 2 hours in a low oven, Gas Mark 2-3. Or longer if possible. Allow to cool.

Day 1, Pan 2

  • 1 onion
  • Splash of light oil
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1 green chilli
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 500 gms beef mince (quite fatty)
  • 2 tsps oregano
  • 2 tsps cumin
  • 2 handfuls chopped coriander stalks
  • 1 tsp ground ancho chilli
  • 1 tbsps tomato puree
  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes
  • 1 mug good concentrated beef stock
  • 1 tsp Splenda or sugar

Fry the onion, chilli and garlic in the oil. When everything's softened and starting to brown a little bit at the edges, add the mince. Sprinkle the spices and herbs on top of the slab of mince, and mix it all together, cutting and stirring until the meat is well-seasoned and brown. Add the puree, tomatoes, stock and sweetener. Cover and simmer very slowly for about 3 hours, adding water if necessary. It shouldn't be dry at this stage. Cool in the pan overnight.

Day 2 (or 3)

Take the meat out of the jelly in pan 1 and cut it into small pieces. Some will just fall into shreds, that's fine. Tip the whole lot, meat, jelly and fat into pan 2. Heat very slowly and mix together. Simmer gently for 2 – 3 hours, After about an hour, add 4 fresh tomatoes chopped up. The longer you cook it, the drier and milder it will get.

Serve with whatever you like – we had sour cream, avocado chunks, chopped fresh tomato, chopped fresh coriander, refried beans and savoury cornbread. You could have rice, tortillas, nachos, cheese, guacamole.

You can add beans to the chilli if you want, but it will seriously mess with the seasonings. This is a very mild chilli anyway, if you want it hotter, don't cook it for so long, use more raw chillis at the beginning, or add your favourite ground chilli with the ancho – something a lot hotter. I like the smoky taste, I would put in maybe crunched up smoked hot chillis.

It was enough for a good-sized dinner portion for 2, a couple of lunch portions cold, and a couple of dinners in the freezer. With side dishes, it would easily feed 6 – 8 for a dinner, it's very rich.

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Mango Salad Wraps

There's a recipe in one of the Moosewood books I've always liked, where you make little one-bite wraps with spinach leaves, filling each with pinches ot peanuts, toasted coconut, and chopped raw limes. This is a grown up version of that, it sounds well fiddly to make but deeply yummy. Serves 4, no nutritional info given. From olive, February 2004.

  • 6 small chopped shallots
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 5 cm root ginger
  • 3 mild red chillies, seeded and chopped
  • 3 tbsps roasted salted peanuts
  • 2 tsp shrimp paste
  • 2 tbsps fish sauce
  • 4 tbsps palm sugar (or light muscovado)
  • 2 heads bok choi or lettuce
  • 2 firm not too ripe mangoes, finely sliced lengthways
  • Half a fresh coconut, shaved into shreds with a potato peeler
  • Handful fresh basil, Thai if you can get it
  • 4 spring onions, finely shredded lengthways
  • 2 limes, halved

Blast the shallots, garlic, ginger and chillies in a food processor until well chopped but not mushy.

Crush the peanuts, keeping some texture.

In a pan, heat 200 ml water, the shallot mixture, the peanuts, shrimp paste, fish sauce and sugar. Boil hard, stirring, for 15 – 20 minutes until thick, dark, sticky and glossy.

Lay out everything on a platter, with the sauce in little bowls.

Take a leaf of bok choi or lettuce, lay on a slice of mango, spread with peanut sauce, add coconut, basil and onions. Squeeze with lime juice, roll and eat.

You'd have to be careful what bok choi you got, so there was a lot of leaf to white stalk. Spinach might be just as good as lettuce. Having to slice the mangoes that way round means no cheating and buying pre-prepared, you could do that but you'd have to rethink the physical structure of the wrap to allow for cubes of mango. It would mean you could have riper mango, though. This has the potential to be really, really sticky – get lots of wetwipes.


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Asian-spiced fish with mushrooms

This is v odd. From BBC Good Food, Christmas 2005, article by Ainsley Harriott. Suggests 201 calories per serving, before any rice or noodles. For 4 servings:

  • 25 gms butter
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 lime, zest grated
  • 1 mild red chilli, cut into rings
  • 4 x 6oz firm white fish fillets, boneless, skinless
  • 200 gm pack mixed mushrooms, trimmed
  • handful of coriander leaves

Heat oven to Gas 6.

Melt the butter, stir in soy sauce, lime zest and chilli. Marinade the fish in this mixture for 10 minutes.

Drain the fish (keeping marinade) and spread on a baking tray. Toss the mushrooms in the marinade and scatter around the fish, drizzling on the remaining liquid. Roast 6 – 8 minutes, until fish is tender and mushrooms are sizzling.

Scatter with coriander and serve with rice or noodles.

Asian fish for people who aren't used to cooking Asian food, what's with the butter? I'm not sure even at Mark 6 that the mushrooms would be "sizzling" after 6 – 8 minutes, especially if you hadn't sliced them up in any way, or pre-heated the baking tray. Article also suggests using chicken breast fillets instead of fish, roasting for 15 minutes before adding the mushrooms. Or marinading large raw prawns and stir-frying in a hot wok for 2 mins, then adding mushrooms for a further 1 min, stirring in last bits of juice just before serving.

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Cucumbers in Vinegar

We often have the drgourmet Thai Cucumber Salad, as a side with Thai or Indian dishes, or cold meat. It reminds John of a cucumber salad dressed with vinegar that his Gran used to make. I ring the changes every so often – I tend not to put the peanuts in at all, and have changed the coriander for mint, and added grated fresh ginger to it. I use bottled lime juice instead of the lime zest as well. So at core it's sweetened acid with Tabasco, and chopped onion.

In Amsterdam at Cafe Wanpipel on Albert Cuyp Straat, we had Surinamese food. There were Indian style curries, but served with Indonesian fried rice or noodles, and a big salad topping. Part of the salad was long cucumber chunks, that had been marinaded in something similar to the drgourmet dressing, but a lot browner, heavier and sweeter. I suspect palm sugar of some sort.


So I've been fiddling again. We're having home-made chicken satay tonight, using the sate spice mix I brought back from the Peperbol shop (again on Albert Cuyp Straat, part of the Mart).

I've cut the cucumber into long thick wedges, and sprinkled half a red onion in medium slices over it. I've mixed a dressing of: clear rice vinegar, black rice vinegar, fish sauce, Splenda, a tiny bit of dark maple syrup, quite a bit of Tabasco, and bottled lime juice. No herbs, I'm going to make a Chinese leaf salad as well, put the cucumber on top of that and add fresh coriander leaf at the end.

I'll make a peanut dipping sauce as well, similar to the drgourmet Thai Peanut Sauce. Peanut butter thinned down and with chilli of some kind in it, anyway. Grilled marinated chicken, and some plain boiled Jasmine Rice.

The drgourmet salad calorie count is 46 calories per cup of salad.

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