My signature chilli has received so many ‘Ooohs’, ‘Aahs’, ‘Mmms’ and ‘Oh my gods’ that it really should have some awards to its name by now…if I do say so myself. This is a recipe I have guarded closely for years, I secretly wonder if it’s the main reason Jake is marrying me. When it’s cooking it fills the house with the most amazing smell, by the time it actually touches down on the table everyone is drooling with anticipation.
There are so many ways to serve chilli, we tend to go at it from a DIY kind of angle. I love a good DIY meal – everything is on the table and up for grabs, all of a sudden it’s every man for himself. I serve it with rice, wraps, sour cream, salad, cheese and sometimes guacamole, if I can be bothered to make any that day ( I definitely can’t today) And of course if you have a mojito knocking around, that would go down a treat.
If you don’t have a slow cooker, this can absolutely be done in a big pan. In fact, if you have 3 hours or less to cook it, I would suggest doing it in a pan, because a slow cooker may not add enough heat in that time.
There’s nothing that angers me more than a watery chilli. There is no excuse! Watery means no time has been given to the preparation, a couple of hours (minimum) of cooking will result in the thickest, most flavourful sauce. NO EXCUSES.
OK, lets get started
For 4 hungry people, you will need…
1kg mince beef
Ground smoked paprika
1 red or orange pepper
2 medium/1 large onion
4 cloves garlic (at least)
2 tins chopped tomatoes
Salt and pepper
Beef stock (1 cube or a tablespoon of Bovril)
1 tbsp instant coffee (the stronger the better)
You can definitely add a can or two of kidney beans – I don’t because I’m allergic
Whether you’re cooking this in a slow cooker or a pan, you need to start it all off in a frying pan. That mince needs browning. But if you are using a slow cooker, turn it on now to start warming up.
Chop the onions roughly and crush the garlic. Did anyone else do the Morrison’s knife offer? We got all of them, apart from the meat cleaver…who actually need a meat cleaver? Anyway, the knives are so good! This one is my favourite…
Pour a glug of oil into your frying pan and get it hot, but not smoking. Add the garlic and let it sweat for a minute or two until very fragrant. Add the onion and lower the heat a little, give it all a good stir and cook until the onion is soft. Add the beef, stirring occasionally until browned all over. I then get a plastic spatula or wooden spoon and use the end of it in a chopping motion to break up any big pieces of meat…no one likes a mouth full of gristle.
Turn off the heat and add the first round of spices – I’m really not very good at stating exact quantities for spices, but start with about a teaspoon of each EXCEPT the cinnamon – you only want a pinch of cinnamon or the flavour will overwhelm everything else. For the chillies, this is a matter of preference. Add a little or none if you like it mild or add a lot if you like it hot. I used some of my Dad’s dried chillies that he grew last year – I have no idea what they are. But it’s fine to use ground, dried chillies in a jar or even chilli powder. Whatever floats your boat.
Chop your pepper and throw it into the slow cooker. Add the mince, tinned tomatoes and passata. Add the stock directly to the slow cooker and then pour in boiling water until you have quite a wet mixture, with some water pooling on top. Add another generous sprinkle of each spice, except the cinnamon – that can go back in the cupboard now. Season well with salt and pepper and add a tablespoon of instant coffee directly to the pot. Stir everything together and turn the cooker on to high, put the lid on and that’s it for a while.
About an hour before you want to eat, go and have a look at your chilli. It should be dark and thick and smelling amazing! At this point I recommend having a taste to see if you need to add more chilli or spices. I more or less always do, because in cooking, the tomato tends to dull the heat of the chilli and the flavour of the spices. I can’t tell you how much to add here because it will vary from person to person, just go with your preference.
I know this goes against all the natural slow cooker rules, but it’s time to take the lid off for the last half hour. There will inevitably be some watery-ness (that’s a word right?) left sitting on top of the chilli, half an hour with the lid off and the cooker back on high will reduce this right off.
When you’re ready to serve, have a quick taste, make any last flavour additions you think you may need and voila! Get it on the table and let everyone dig in.
If you have a go at making this, I’d love to know how it goes!