Thursday, August 29, 2013

Chilli Con Carne

Since Gaffa has been away at officer training for the Australian Navy, I've been surviving off the frozen meals he made before he left and my parent's cooking. I made a promise to Gaffa that I'd learn to cook and finally got off my ass and did some cooking on the weekend.

I decided to make one of the meals that Gaffa always makes. It's really tasty and versatile, and actually easier to make than one of Jamie's 15 minute meals that I made the same day. 
Jamie's good old chilli con carne is in his Ministry of Food cookbook, and is probably the most used cookbook in our collection.  Gaffa has added a few of his own ingredients to make this more filling and give it a bit more of a kick.

As you can see from the list, it's got the basic staple ingredients that Gaffa has written about previously in his versatile cooking blogs, so this is definitely a hearty and healthy meal that can be frozen for later.

2 medium onions
2 cloves garlic
2 medium carrots
2 sticks celery
2 red peppers
Olive oil
1 heaped teaspoon chilli powder
1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
1 heaped teaspoon ground cinamon
1 heaped teaspoon paprika (optional)
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
400g tinned chickpeas
400g tinned red kidney beans
400g tinned Mexican chilli beans (optional)
2 x 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
500g quality mince beef
1 small bunch coriander
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

The preparation method is pretty simple.
Peel and chop the onions, garlic, carrots, celery and peppers. Don't worry too much about being concise, just chop until fine or to your own liking. Place a large casarole pan on medium heat and add 2 lugs of olive oil and all the chopped vegetables. Add the chilli powder,  cumin, cinamon, (paprika), pinch of salt and pepper. Stir every 30 seconds for about 7 minutes until softened and lightly coloured.

Next, add the drained chickpeas, drained kidney beans, tinned tomatoes and Mexican chilli beans including the liquid. Add the mince and break up any large chunks with a wooden spoon. Fill one of the empty tomato tins with water and pour into the pan.

Pick the coriander leaves and place them in the fridge. Finely chop the washed stalks and stir in. Add the balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and turn the hear down to a simmer for about an hour (or two if you have the time), stirring every now and then. The longer you simmer it obviously the thicker it'll become. Depending on the texture you want simmer for atleast an hour though. Jamie suggests putting the lid askew on the pan but I think that slows down the simmering process and creates more liquid. I just leave the lid off.

This is meant to serve six, but I had my parents, brother and SIL over for dinner and still had about another 3-4 servings left over.

Serve with fluffy rice, guacamole, yogurt and slice of lime. Or if you want something different, try it with corn chips, melted cheese, sour cream and guacamole - like nachos!!

For a simple guacamole recipe, chuck 2 avocados, 2 chillis (include seeds if you're game) and 2 gloves of garlic into a food processor - blend till well combined and good consistency. Add one tomato at the end and combine. Adding the tomato at the end stops the guacamole from going brown. It's so tasty I could eat the guacamole by itself!!

I think my cooking was quite successful - if I do say so myself. My brother had seconds and even Ms. Tjak had a little bit more after she tasted the guacamole. (I forgot to bring out the guacamole and only remember after everyone had finished). But Gaffa will be the ultimate critic. There's some left in the freezer especially for him :)

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