D has worked long and hard to convince me of the merits of the chilli. Me, I've never been sold. If I'm going to eat a plate of tomatoey mince meat then spag bol will win every single time. And, yes, I am quite aware that a proper ragu from the Bologna region of Italy is a million miles away from tomatoey mince meat, but I have never claimed to cook anything authentically.
Anyway, chilli. I think he may finally have shown me the point. The dish he produced the other night, an amalgam between Heston's recipe, Felicity Cloake's and "some other recipe that I saw on a blog", was rich and complex and quite a thing of beauty. It eschews the usual tomatoes for a whole host of other unusual sounding ingredients which adds up to something that is significantly more than the sum of its parts.
You will, of course, notice that it uses a LOT of chilli. And not just that but a lot of different types of chilli. This necessitated a rather expensive trip to Waitrose. The payback was the incredible depth and complexity of flavour - each brought a different note with it. But it was not the cheapest meal that we have ever cooked. And of course I should say something about the heat level. I have quite a timid palate when it comes to heat and found this to be on the edge of what I can comfortably manage. A dollop of crème fraiche (you could also use yoghurt or sour cream) tempered the heat beautifully - D, who is far hardier of taste bud, judged it to be spot on just as it was. You could de-seed the dried chillies to reduce the heat.
Slow cooking is perfect for this sort of dish - it allows the spices time to develop and makes the meat meltingly tender. But, of course, it could be cooked on the hob if you preferred.
200g beef braising steak, cubed
400g beef mince
2 onions, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, crushed
250ml freshly brewed coffee
2 x Knorr beef stock pots (or other beef stock concentrate)
125ml red wine
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp muscovado sugar
20g dark chocolate (we used a dark chocolate with chilli that we happened to have in)
2 large carrots, grated
Handful of mushrooms, finely chopped
2 dried chipotle chillies, finely chopped
2 dried habanero chillies, finely chopped
2 dried ancho chillies, finely chopped
2 dried cascabel chillies, finely chopped
2 fresh green jalapeno chillies, de-seeded and finely chopped
2 fresh red chillies, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 jar of honeydew piquante peppers, drained and chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp hot chilli powder
2 star anise
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
200g kidney beans
200g black eyed beans
Serves 6, 9 pro points per portion
Dry fry the mince until well browned and transfer to the slow cooker. Brown the steak in the mince juices and likewise add to the slow cooker. De-glaze the pan with the red wine and pour over the meat.
Add all the other ingredients, stir, and season well.
Cook on low for 6 hours. Serve with rice, or nachos, or tortillas and a large glass of water :-)