“I think preparing food and feeding people brings nourishment not only to our bodies but to our spirits. Feeding people is a way of loving them, in the same way that feeding ourselves is a way of honoring our own createdness and fragility.”
~ Shauna Niequist
Chilli con carne is one of those great comfort food dishes. I usually make a big pot, and it does us for two or three meals, depending on how many mouths I am feeding. It can be made in a slow cooker, it freezes well, and left-over mince can be used as a nachos topping, in burritos, on toast or in jaffles.
Want to pad it out a bit more? Add in another can of tomatoes and a drained can of tinned corn. Chuck in some vegetables if you want. That’s the joy of country cooking. You work with what you have to hand. I will often add a second can of tomatoes and some extra beans into whatever is left-over after our first meal to make another big pot if I need to.
It’s also easy to adjust the seasoning to suit your family’s taste. Like it hot? Add more chilli. Less hot? Just add a touch, or leave it out altogether.
1 large onion, 1 large red capsicum (bell pepper), 4 garlic cloves – peeled and crushed or chopped finely, 500g of lean beef mince, 2 rashers of bacon chopped in small dice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tspn smoked paprika, 2 tspns cumin, 1 tspn dried oregano, 1 400g tin of diced tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, 1 400g tin of red kidney beans – drained, 1 heaped teaspoon of beef stock powder or one large stock cube, 1 tablespoon of dark chocolate (about four squares) salt and pepper to taste, 1 long red chili (or your favourite chilli paste, powder or sauce), fresh coriander (cilantro), lime wedges and cooked rice to serve.
Dice the onion and capsicum. Add to a large saucepan with the oil over medium heat. Stir until the onion is soft and slightly translucent. Add spices and garlic and keep stirring.
Chuck in the diced bacon. Stir well to prevent sticking and add another slug of oil if necessary. When the mixture is warmed, fragrant and the bacon is slightly browned add in the mince.
Brown mince well. Now throw in the tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, drained kidney beans, beef stock, salt and pepper and mix well. Taste and adjust chilli if necessary.
Add the dark chocolate. Trust me – it adds real depth of flavour. Don’t go crazy. You want to adjust the sweetness without making it taste noticeably of chocolate!
Turn down heat and simmer for a minimum of thirty minutes.
Serve on a bed of rice with fresh chopped coriander sprinkled over the top and a wedge of fresh lime. Additional accompaniments include salsa, grated cheese, guacamole, sour cream or yoghurt, and corn chips.