Chilli-Stuffed Peppers with Cumin Rice

This recipe is a lovely little twist on the classic Chilli Con Carne – the spicy chilli sauce is combined with sweet roasted peppers and rich, fragrant rice. In this case, to make the sauce, I used a can of mixed beans in chilli sauce, because that was all Sainsbury’s had left! – but actually I think the flavour was really good, so it’s up to you whether you go for the chilli beans or the straightforward ones (just make sure you don’t get a ‘bean salad’ with vinaigrette). If you’re a vegetarian, I reckon this dish would still be delicious with plenty of beans and no mince.

About 250g lamb mince
1 onion
A can of mixed beans
Smoked paprika (you can use the ordinary stuff, but the smoked version is so full of fantastic flavour that it’s well worth investing in)
1 and a half cans of chopped tomatoes
Half a glass of red wine
Olive oil
Salt and black pepper
2 large red peppers, preferably ones that are the right shape to stand up on their own
250g long grain rice
Grated cheddar, to serve

Makes enough to fill two peppers, with a bit left over for seconds.

If you can, it’s best to start the chilli sauce early so that it has time to simmer and deepen in flavour - about two hours before you want to serve would be best, but obviously you can adjust to whatever time you’ve got available. Finely dice the onion and get it sizzling in a splash of oil (I’ve put olive oil on my ingredients list, since that’s what most people tend to have, but I’ve started buying Sunolive, a combination of olive oil and sunflower oil, which is supposed to be a bit better for you).

Once the onions have softened and turned golden brown, sprinkle generously with smoked paprika and stir through, then add the beans (if they’re not in a sauce already, remember to rinse them, as normally plain beans are preserved in brine which will make your sauce very salty) and the red wine. Turn the heat up so that it sizzles – you want all the alcohol to fry off so that you’re just left with the lovely essence of the wine.

Once most of the liquid has disappeared, add the mince and stir until it loses its pink colour, then pour in the chopped tomatoes, season well and leave the sauce to bubble on a low heat.

When you’ve got about half an hour left before you want to serve up, get started on the rice - for my foolproof fluffy rice method, check out the How To page. When you reach the second stage (where the rice is steaming in the sieve), it’s time to prepare the peppers. Preheat the oven to about 200˚C, then slice the tops off the peppers, pull out the seeds and spoon in the chilli sauce. Top with a little grated cheese and place on a baking tray in the oven – this is just to soften up the pepper so there’s no need to time it, just leave them in there until the rice is finished.

To finish off the rice, once it’s cooked through, add a couple of knobs of butter, a generous sprinkle of cumin and a pinch of salt, and stir through. Have a taste to check the flavours are nicely balanced, then serve up a big spoonful of deliciously scented rice and top with a roasted pepper. Sprinkle with grated cheese and, if you fancy, garnish with a spoonful of crème fraiche or soured cream. Enjoy!