Perfect Chilli Con Carne

Just like my Spaghetti Bolognese, this is one of those recipes that it’s good to have under your belt, because nearly everyone likes it. It’s a simple dish, so it tends to turn up in awful ‘student’ cookbooks that tell you to use the cheapest version of everything and stick to salt and pepper, but I think Chilli Con Carne can be made a bit special by the addition of a few spices and a mixture of interesting pulses, so don’t write it off just yet. My boyfriend Mike improvised this recipe the other night and I think it’s the best I’ve tasted (even allowing for me to be biased)!

About 200g beef mince
1 onion
1 400g can of chopped tomatoes
A mixture of beans, such as kidney beans, cannellini beans, and black-eyed beans – probably the easiest thing to do is buy a mixed can (I find that the Sainsbury’s ‘mixed pulses’ can is perfect for the job)
Beef stock
A teaspoon or so of chilli – I buy Very Lazy chillis, ready-prepared in a jar
A tablespoon of tomato puree
Paprika and cumin
Dried oregano and thyme
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
Sour cream and grated Cheddar, to serve

Serves  4.

Start out by dicing the onion, then fry gently in a slug of olive oil with a good sprinkling of paprika and cumin. Once the onion has softened, add the mince and break up well with a spatula, then sprinkle the oregano and thyme over the top and stir again. Put the kettle on and make up your beef stock, and then, as the smell of the herbs starts to rise from the pan, pour in the chopped tomatoes, refill the empty can with stock, and pour that in too. Add a generous dollop of tomato puree and season well. Finally, rinse the beans and stir them through the sauce, then pop the lid on, turn the heat down, and leave the chilli to bubble for about half an hour.

While it’s simmering, make your rice – check out my perfectly fluffy takeaway-style rice on the How To page. Finally, serve up with a sprinkling of grated cheddar on the top and a dollop of sour cream on the side. Delicious.