When you’ve been rained on for four long months the only thing to resort to is comfort food. Something hearty and warming, something that’s going to brighten your day.You need food that’s good for the soul and reassuring to the stomach. As you know we Brits like to talk about the weather, but even we are bored of it now. Enough about the rain, let’s talk about the food.
I could have a long debate about my favourite comfort foods. We could talk soups, apple crumble, steaming lasagne or hot, bubbling stews. If I were being very British I could put steamed puddings, bangers and mash or roast beef and Yorkshire pudding at the top of the list. Of course we’ve discussed Hot Chocolate and Goulash before. But where most comfort foods scream winter, optimism and warmth, they also need to be easy to make. I want to be able to leave it in the oven or on the stove whilst I curl up on my sofa with a hot water bottle, glass of wine, duvet and a good book, anticipating the pleasure of the meal to come.
And so, to my very favourite comfort food. Chilli Con Carne. I could eat this most days of the week if allowed. There’s something about the depth and the heat that makes me feel right at home. I usually make this on a Friday evening, at the end of a long week, when I can shut the front door and open a bottle of wine (yes, more wine. It’s very important in the comfort food zone).
But there is a debate in our house about whether we serve it with rice or pasta. Now I’m a rice girl, it’s the softness of the grains that gives the extra comfort I’m looking for, but we’re at a fifty/fifty split on that one, with growing boys finding that pasta will fill them up more than rice does. My final indulgence is crème fraiche on top but if I’m serving it to friends I’ll throw on some chopped avocado, grated cheese and probably some nachos too.
The recipe I use is loosely based on a very old Jamie Oliver recipe – I use a bit more heat and a few less onions and red kidney beans than he does. Make it the day before and it always tastes better. Even better, make a big enough batch to freeze the leftovers and the defrosted batch will always have a more rounded taste.
Heart Warming Chilli Con Carne
1 medium onion – finely chopped
3 garlic cloves – finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 red chillies – finely chopped
1 heaped tspn hot chilli powder
2 level tspn ground cumin
500g minced beef
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
1 x 400g tin red kidney beans in water
1 x small jar (approx 90g) of sun-dried tomato paste
1 x small cinnamon stick
Using a large frying pan (which has a lid) soften the onion and garlic for about 7 minutes. Add the chopped chilli and cook for another minute. Add the dried spices and stir before adding the mince. Once the mince is browned pour in the chopped tomatoes and the jar of sun-dried tomato paste. Add a small glass of water (approx. 150ml) and the cinnamon stick and bring up to simmering point. Put a lid on your pan and simmer gently for an hour. Add the drained kidney beans and cook for another half hour.
Prep time: approx. 20 mins
Cooking time: 1hr, 30 mins