I’ve never been able to crack the code to a great chili. My guy friends seem to throw in a million different ingredients, mince or steak, a shake here and a spoon here and voila! A massive slow-cooked bowl of tasty, rich amazingness. The meat falls apart, the sauce is rich, the spices balance and when asked how this magic is performed all I get is a shrug and the word, “Practice”. So I resigned myself to an inability to cook real guy-food, until now! This is TASTY.
Based on a combination of three recipes from my three favourite, ‘back to basics, hearty food with a funky twist’ chefs (Jamie Oliver, HalfBakedHarvest and Hungry, Darling?) this went down so well I’m so glad I took some pictures and scribbled the recipe down so I could post it on here (please don’t be put off by the ingredients list, it’s hefty but it’s ‘store cupboard friendly’, even for a student!). I used half a roasting joint simply because Mum wanted me to ‘do something tasty with it’ but I think a fattier cut might work better along with a little less oil in the pan. But back to this recipe, thanks to Jamie I especially love the addition of coffee giving a real bitter depth to the sauce, conflicting the added sugar and nodding the cowboy heritage! Served with some fluffy rice and a big green bowl of zesty, spicy guacamole, this is one of my favourite hearty dinners, any time of year!
- 900g roasting joint, brisket or flank steak
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- 2 tbsp smoked paprika
- 2 tbsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp chili flakes
- 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 red onions, finely chopped
- 3 large dried chillis (if not add more powder or flakes!)
- 1 mug of strong coffee
- 1 tbsp dark muscovado sugar
- a good pinch of salt and pepper
- 1 can quality chopped tomatoes
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 can of beans! (kidney, pinto or black, I used chickpeas)
- Refilled can of water
- 1/2 stock cube
- 1 large, ripe avocado
- 2 tbsp thick Greek yoghurt
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- juice 1/2 lemon or large lime
At least a few hours before cooking or even overnight, grab a large mixing bowl. Chop the meat against the grain into inch-square pieces and throw in the bowl. Add in the 3 tbsp of olive or vegetable oil and all of the spices listed in the indented list (cocoa, cinnamon, cumin, chilli and paprika) along with any leaked juices of the meat. Mix it all around and leave to marinate (turning occasionally for an even coverage) until 3 hours before serving time.
First make your nice strong coffee and pop in the dried chilis while is still hot! Set them aside so they can rehydrate until needed.
Heat a large, casserole dish over a high heat until really hot and add half the meat using a slotted spoon (be careful not to overcrowd the pan) but retain the marinating juices. There should be enough oil on the meat to fry it off, browning it and sealing in all the tasty spices. Transfer to a second bowl and do the same to the second half.
Once cooked, turn down the heat to medium and add the chopped onions to fry them off for a few minutes and absorb the flavours of the pan. Add the garlic for 2 mins, then the tomato puree, can of tomatoes, can of chickpeas/beans (don’t bother draining them!). Refill a can with boiling water, dissolve the 1/2 stock cube and add this to the pan along with the sugar and the mug of chili-coffee. Spoon the top layer of oil off the marinating juices and add them too for SO MUCH FLAVOUR.
Add the meat, (I apologise if your pan is close to overflowing with meat and liquid!) and simmer on a very low heat with the lid half on for up to 3 hours or until nice and thick and saucy.
Either keep the meat chunky for tear it apart a bit at this point, then add in any other fast-cook veggies you like (bell peppers, spring onions, fresh chili, more beans, etc.) and heat for another 15 minutes until cooked through. In this 15 minutes, mash up the avo and stir in the other ingredients to make a chunky green paste of wonderfulness!!! For a smoother consistency, use a blender. In my case the avo was WAY underripe so it was more than chunky 😉
Serve it all up with the rice, a big spoonful of guacamole, a ladle of chili with a spoon of soured cream on top, plus I like some lemony dressed rocket leaves for added peppery kicks. Hand everyone a cold beer and they could not possibly complain!