Posts Tagged ‘minced beef’

Chilli Con Carne

Chilli con carne

I like to vary the carbohydrates that I eat during the week, alternating between rice, potatoes, pasta and bread. When we’re thinking of something to have with rice, chilli frequently comes to mind. It’s delicious, simple to make and keeps well in the freezer – although my leftovers are often taken to work for lunch the next day. For some reason there’s no mention of chilli con carne on this blog so I thought I’d change that.

Chilli is similar to bolognese in that everyone has their own recipe and secret ingredients. Sit a few cooks down together and bring up the topic of the ultimate chilli con carne recipe and you’ll have hours of conversation over the best meats (either ground or diced chunks), whether beans should be added or not, the amount of tomato to use… I’m going to give my recipe but don’t take it as gospel. Use more or less beans, diced beef instead of minced beef, more or less chilli – it’s up to you.

This time I used British Cherry Bomb chillis – they’re pendant shaped and can be quite potent. Any other type of fresh chilli, or even dried chilli flakes will do.

Chilli also tastes better when made a few days in advance. Once cooked, leave to cool then put in the fridge and reheat gently before serving.

Chilli Con Carne
Serves 2 to 3 people
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: at least an hour

1 onion, half sliced, the other half diced
1 cherry bomb chilli, diced (include the seeds if you want it hot)
1 large clove garlic, minced
350g lean minced beef
1 beef stock cube
1/2tsp cumin
1 tin good quality chopped tomatoes
1/2 tbsp tomato puree
1tsp chilli powder
1tsp oregano
dash of red wine (optional)
olive oil
salt and pepper

Start by dry fying the mince in a pan until browned, strain then set aside.

Fry the onion, garlic and chilli in a little oil over a low heat until softened – this will take between 5 and 10 minutes. Add the cumin, chilli powder and oregano to the onions and stir before adding the cooked minced beef. Next add the tomato puree, tinned tomatoes, beef stock cube and some salt and pepper and stir well. Pour in the red wine if using – I often freeze leftover red wine in an ice cube tray and use a couple of cubes in this dish.

Leave to simmer uncovered for at least an hour – add some water if it gets too dry. Serve with some boiled rice, a jacket potato or even some nachos.

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Spaghetti bolognese

Bolognese is a staple in the grub’s up household. However, despite the regularity that we have it, I’ve never attempted to modify (and document) my recipe so I thought it was about time to begin.

I’ve always used a few core ingredients – onion, garlic, lean minced beef, oregano, good quality tinned chopped tomatoes, tomato pureĆ©, salt and pepper – but have little variations every time I cook. I’d add some worcestershire sauce, red wine, marmite or beef stock. Sometimes I’d add them all. I do believe that the longer you cook it the better it tastes but I’m not sure that hours and hours of cooking results in something much different to what you would get after an hour on the hob.

When searching the internet for some inspiration I came across a few suggestions that I thought I’d try in tonight’s dinner. The first is using both pork and beef mince. This gives the dish more flavour and makes it more authentic than using beef on its own. The second is milk: adding it during the early stages of cooking helps tenderise the meat. Next is carrot, which I don’t usually add but is present in the traditional soffrito to which the meat is added. Finally, red wine. However I didn’t want to open a bottle just to use a splash for dinner so I looked for an alternative, without much success. In the end I settled with red wine vinegar – I’m trying to justify this now with some well-researched facts from cookery but I’m drawing a blank. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea after all.

I chose to grate the carrot so it would cook quickly; I attempted to grate the onion too but this resulted in a strange watery mush so I diced it instead.

Spaghetti Bolognese
Serves 6
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 1hr 20mins

350g lean beef mince
350g pork mince
2 carrots, grated
2 small onions, grated if you can, else dice finely
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1tsp oregano
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp tomato puree
2x400g tins chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp red wine vinegar (optional)
salt & pepper
olive oil
grated cheddar (optional)

Firstly brown the mince in batches in a dry pan then drain the excess fat and set aside.

Put 1tbsp olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and add the carrot, onion and garlic. Fry over a low heat for 5 or 6 minutes until they have softened, being careful not to let them brown. Add the oregano, bay, worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper and cook briefly before adding the mince. Stir the mince through then add the milk and red wine vinegar before cooking for a few minutes. Next add the tomato pureƩ and cook it off briefly then stir it through.

Leave everything for a couple of minutes, then add both tins of tomatoes to the pan, bring to the boil then simmer, covered, for at least an hour to allow the flavours to combine. Check the seasoning just before serving and serve with spaghetti and grated cheese if you like.


This turned out surprisingly well. The meat was tender and flavourful and the sauce had a wonderful beefy-tomatoey depth to it. It actually tasted like I’d added the wine, so perhaps the red wine vinegar wasn’t a complete mistake. I was worried the vinegar would result in a tangy dish but it was nothing of the sort. A good thing that it tasted so great as there’s a huge amount of leftovers. I cooked enough for an entire family – think I’ll be having this for lunch a few times next week.

I’m not sure whether the mince should be drained after cooking or not. The beef mince is lean so it doesn’t release so much fat, but there’s still quite a bit of it. One side of me thinks that not draining will add to the flavour, the other side thinks that it’ll end up too greasy and oily. Only one way to find out – next time I’ll skip this step.

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