Probably one of the most famous ‘Mexican’ dishes is chilli con carne meaning chilli with meat. There are many varieties of this recipe and it’s one that is worth experimenting with. Here is a simple recipe for a chilli con carne which is medium on the hot and spicy scale.
You’ll need (serves 4)
1 chilli pepper finely chopped (adjust the amount for a more or less spicy chilli)
4 chunks of dark chocolate (or 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder will do)
Whatever you’re going to serve it with – rice or baked potatoes work.
Salt to taste (about a teaspoon) and a little oil for frying
300ml of beef stock (or water and a stock cube)
1 large or 2 medium onions, chopped
1 large pepper (any colour is fine)
1 can of chopped tomatoes (400g)
1 tea spoon of chopped oregano
2 tablespoons of tomato puree
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon of paprika
450g of minced beef
1 teaspoon of cumin
Fry the onions in a large frying pan or saucepan for about 5 minutes over a medium heat and then add the garlic, pepper, chilli, paprika, cumin, oregano, (cocoa if using it rather than chocolate) and beef and continue frying until all the meat is browned, stirring frequently.
When the meat is uniformly brown and not in big clumps, add the beef stock, the chopped tomatoes, and the tomato puree and stir until fully mixed. Cover and leave to simmer for around half an hour.
Taste the chilli whist in the pot so you can judge whether you need to add more salt or chilli.
Serve on the rice, baked potato or whatever and add the chunk of chocolate as a melting garnish on each of the individual portions, or in the big pot. A big bowl of plain tortilla chips (what we sometimes know as nachos in England) is a welcome part of this meal.
To alter the flavours, you can remove the skin from the peppers by grilling them until the skin turns black and peeling it off.
You can use chipotle chillies if you can find them, they give a really nice smoked flavour.
You can add a little chopped bacon along with the beef near the start, or fry the chopped bacon separately and add it as a garnish at the end.
For a vegetarian option, replace the meat with a vegetarian mince product like Quorn or soya or use another tin and a half of beans such as pinto, borlotti or butter beans, and replace the beef stock with vegetable stock, or water with a vegetable stock cube.
You can also replace the minced beef with other types of meat such as minced lamb or even off-cuts of beef if you cut them up into small pieces.