Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Chilli con Carne (or just chilli)

I love meals that enable me to slack off later - even better if they're not too hard to make first time round. This chilli is from Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food (highly recommended for the basics - and an especially great book for non-cooks, since it simplifies everything) and is not only pretty low effort, but is also versatile - so you can mix up how you eat it, making it seem like different meals even though you only had to make one. ;-)

Some of the ingredients are important - the tomatoes, some sort of beans, some vegetables, and the spices (which I have confusingly omitted from the photo above) - but for a large part we play it by ear, which I reckon is how weekday dinners should be - flexible enough to cope without every last item on the recipe. We've made this chilli vegetarian several times (just leave out the mince, maybe add a little extra veg), we've made it with more vegetable, less vegetable, different vegetable... Oh, and many times without the balsamic vinegar because for ages we didn't have any. So you can definitely tweak it to suit.

There's a bit of vegie prep and a few minutes standing over the stove while the onions cook, and then when you add the spices and let them get all aromatic and amazing. And then you basically just throw the rest of the ingredients in and let it simmer for about an hour.

It never looks very pretty (except at the point when you add the spices, maybe, at a stretch, and you'd hardly want to eat it then) but it definitely tastes good - and it is great belly-warming comfort food, plus (bonus!) actually pretty healthy.

We made this last week and it made three generous meals for us with some left; we had it with rice the first night, on baked spuds the second night, and with corn chips on night three. I guess we could make less but I really am quite lazy - and in particular I find making dinner on Thursday and Friday nights a battle, and as such we are quite susceptible to the lure of McDonalds or non-meal food on those nights, so making this on Wednesday was probably good for our health too!

Can you put up with the same food three nights running if you change it out a little? Or is that a little too repetitive for you?

Chilli con Carne (adapted from Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food)
1 onion
1 clove garlic
2 carrots
2 sticks of celery
2 red peppers
olive oil
1 heaped teaspoon chilli powder
1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
1 heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon
salt and pepper
400g tin of chickpeas, drained
400g tin of red kidney beans, drained
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
500g mince
small bunch of coriander
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Rice, baked potato, corn chips or pasta to serve
natural yoghurt, sour cream, guacamole, cheese

Finely chop the onion, garlic and celery. Roughly chop the red peppers. Place a large saucepan on a medium high heat, add some olive oil and the onion until mostly cooked. Add the rest of the chopped vegetables, and grate the carrot and add that.

Add the chilli powder, cumin and cinnamon with salt and pepper to season. Stir every 30 seconds for around 7 minutes until softened and lightly coloured.

Add the chickpeas, kidney beans, tinned tomatoes and the mince, breaking any larger chunks of mince up with a wooden spoon. Fill one of the empty tomato tins with water and pour this into the pan. Chop the coriander stalks and add these (hold the leaves aside for later). Add the balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and turn the heat down to a simmer with a lid slightly askew for about an hour, stirring every now and again to stop it catching.

Sprinkle the coriander leaves on top just before serving. Serve with carbohydrate of choice, and top with natural yoghurt, sour cream, guacamole and/or cheese as desired.


  1. I love chilli so I could eat it all week long. It is good though, as you are having it, to mix it up as the leftovers continue. I often make mine with lots of liquid to start with and have it as just chilli with some cheese on top and extra jalapenos on night 1, then have it on rice another night, baked potatoes, and you can even use it in tortillas as a burrito filling, or with pasta as a mexican style spaghetti bolognese. I often freeze some of it if I make chili just for myself or one other person, as it defrosts quite well and then you don't have to have a week of chilli, rather you can space it out over two!

  2. Jen, I will have to freeze some next time - I never think of that at the time but it would make a lot of sense for us. :-)

  3. This is exactly how we make it too. I often grate and freeze zucchini in the summer for adding in to a chilli like this is the winter. I also freeze additional portions to make an easy nights dinner when takeaways look so tempting!

    1. Oh, grating and freezing the zucchini is smart! We have a small amount growing at the moment, though unlikely to have leftovers, but hopefully by next summer we'll have enough established garden to take proper advantage of that. Thanks for the tip! We already freeze celery in portions as we never get through a whole bunch at once. :-)


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