Friday, March 13, 2009

Chilli con carne


Why is it that we always want what we don't have?
When I was in the US, I used to make a two hour drive trip to go to a small grocery store that carried Argentine food.
I would come back home with tons of tapas de empanadas, masa de tarta and what ever goodies I could find.
When I was in Argentina, I was searching through China Town all the oriental markets trying to find oyster sauce, fish sauce, red and green curry, sesame oil, etc...
Now, in Brazil, I find myself searching for Mexican food: tortillas, chipotles, jalapeños, tomatillos...
I almost threw a party yesterday after I found tortillas at the grocery store. I wasn't sure if I should buy them all and freeze them or just gamble that i will be lucky in the future and find them again.
Finally a voice inside me yelled: " Just enjoy the LOCAL food"
And I will, but to celebrate my find I made Chilli con Carne.
I got this recipe from the BBC Goof Food website.

1 tbsp oil
1 large onion
1 red pepper
2 garlic cloves , peeled
1 heaped tsp hot chilli powder (or 1 level tbsp if you only have mild)
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
500g lean minced beef
1 beef stock cube
400g can chopped tomatoes
½ tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp tomato purée
410g can red kidney beans
soured cream and plain boiled long grain rice , to serve



Prepare your vegetables. Chop your onion into small dice, about 5mm square. The easiest way to do this is to cut the onion in half from root to tip, peel it and slice each half into thick matchsticks lengthways, not quite cutting all the way to the root end so they are still held together. Slice across the matchsticks into neat dice. Cut your pepper in half lengthways, remove stalk and wash the seeds away, then chop.
Start cooking. Put your pan on the hob over a medium heat. Add the oil and leave it for 1-2 minutes until hot (a little longer for an electric hob). Add the onions and cook, stirring fairly frequently, for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft, squidgy and slightly translucent.Tip in the garlic, red pepper, chilli, paprika and cumin. Give it a good stir, then leave it to cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Brown the mince. Turn the heat up a bit, add the meat to the pan and break it up with your spoon or spatula. The mix should sizzle a bit when you add the mince. Keep stirring and prodding for at least 5 minutes, until all the mince is in uniform, mince-sized lumps and there are no more pink bits. Make sure you keep the heat hot enough for the meat to fry and become brown, rather than just stew.

Making the sauce. Crumble your stock cube into 300ml/1⁄2 pint of hot water. Pour this into the pan with the mince mixture. Open the can of chopped tomatoes and add these as well. Tip in the marjoram and the sugar, if using (see tip left), and add a good shake of salt and pepper. Squirt in about 2 tbsp of tomato purée and stir the sauce well.
Simmer it gently. Bring the whole thing to the boil, give it a good stir and put a lid on the pan. Turn down the heat until it is gently bubbling and leave it for 20 minutes. You should check on the pan occasionally to stir it and make sure the sauce doesn't catch on the bottom of the pan or isn't drying out. If it is, add a couple of tablespoons of water and make sure that the heat really is low enough. After simmering gently, the saucy mince mixture should look thick, moist and juicy.
Bring on the beans. Drain and rinse the beans in a sieve and stir them into the chilli pot. Bring to the boil again, and gently bubble without the lid for another 10 minutes, adding a little more water if it looks too dry. Taste a bit of the chilli and season. It will probably take a lot more seasoning than you think. Now replace the lid, turn off the heat and leave your chilli to stand for 10 minutes before serving, and relax. Leaving your chilli to stand is really important as it allows the flavours to mingle and the meat.

6 comments:

Gattina said...

you're simply an adventurous foodie, that's how you've achieved such a broad range of dishes! I go easy on oriental food in Barcelona, the variety and quality are still bad. But more and more Chinese coming to live, guess sooner or later the food should be improved.

Maryann said...

Nice chili, Pia! :)

chemcookit said...

Looks delicious! Hey, variety is always good in food. And if you do end up finding 'ethnic' food where you live, it's because there are small communities of people around. So, in the end, it becomes 'local', too.

chuck said...

Pia, isn't Chili the most perfect comfort food this time of year. I would love a bowl of yours. great dish!

Paz said...

Oh, yum! Looks scrumptious and comforting. I enjoyed reading about how you look for the different foods in the various places. I'd probably do the same thing. ;-)

Paz

Layla said...

Hi Pia - I can completely relate to wanting what you don't have when it comes to food ingredients. Your chilli con carne looks amazing, and the cold and rain here makes we want it even more!