Monday, 21 June 2010

Ov Mince and Hellfire

I was getting a bit bored with my usual pictures of the finished dish sitting on my kitchen worktop, so I thought I'd take a photo of my chill con carne mid-cooking to really push back the boundaries. Also it lends some credence to the idea that I do actually cook these meals.

Good quality minced beef is one of those cheap and cheerful superingredients that can be used to make delicious and easy recipes. Although one or two ingredients will be different, the basic method of cooking mince is the same whether you're doing moussaka, cottage pie, bolognaise sauce or chilli. I recommend using normal (as opposed to steak) mince as the extra fat will add flavour to the sauce.

NOTE: some of the ingredients of this chilli are not uber-traditional, however I do think they work well.

Ingredients to serve four:
  • 500g beef mince
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 x red onions, diced
  • 2 x large garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 x star anise
  • 1-2 tbsps dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin (preferably freshly ground toasted seeds)
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 x red chillis, finely chopped
  • 600ml beef stock (you probably won't need all of it but I'm not sure of the exact amount)
  • 2 x tbsps olive oil
  • 1 x tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 x tbsps tomato puree
  • 1 x tsp sugar
  • 1 x 400g tin of kidney beans (or butter beans if you prefer)
  • 1 x 400g tin of Italian chopped tomatoes
  1. Heat a wide frying pan on a high heat and add the oil. It should be smoking hot as you really want to sear the mince.
  2. Season the mince well - be liberal with the pepper as it's excellent with beef. Chuck it in the pan and let it fry vigorously for about 2 minutes until it's brown. Spread it out well across the pan, and if you're cooking the amount in this recipe I strongly recommend you do it in at least 2 batches. If you crowd the pan, it will reduce the temperature of the oil and the mince will boil rather than sear. And if this happens, you will see the juices leak out of the mince, resulting in horrible dry meat. A little bit of charring is better than boiling, but add a little more oil if you think it's going to burn. When your mince is browned, remove the mince to a plate and return the pan to the heat.
  3. Turn the heat down a little as the ingredients at this stage burn easily. Add your whole garlic cloves, star anise, onions and chopped chillis to the pan. If you like it really hot leave the chilli seeds in. Stir the pan to prevent burning. When the onions are transluscent, add the cumin and chilli powder and stir for about 10 seconds until it's fragrant.
  4. Create a "well" in the centre of the pan and add the tomato puree. This will help to get rid of some of its tartness. Next, add the beef back in, along with the kidney beans and oregano. Stir it all together and deglaze the pan with a drop of red wine vinegar.
  5. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minutes until the tomatoes have started to melt, add the sugar to offset the acidity of the red wine vinegar and then add enough beef stock to almost cover the meat. Bring it to the boil and then cover and simmer it gently for about an hour and a half, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened into a smooth paste.
  6. Serve with freshly steamed basmati or long grain rice.

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