Wednesday, 10 February 2010

A Week (and a bit) of Chilli

On Monday we were invited out to dinner.

After surviving on Chilli con carne in various guises for the previous week, it was a relief to be out of the kitchen and away from the Mexican ragu which had finally been finished off spooned over a bowl of nachos and laden with vaguely luminescent cheese.

The Le Creuset was washed down, the crusted edges scraped clean and we left it drying on the rack beside the sink as we drove the half hour towards Bedfordshire.

‘We thought about getting a curry tonight,’ he said as a cold lager was passed towards me ‘but the Indian is closed on a Monday. So we’ve cooked a chilli instead.’

The giggles were stifled until the GF and I were alone in the dining room when we simply had to embrace the irony and laugh silently and uncontrollably, resigned politely to enjoy just one more, like the erstwhile butler James in the magnificent Dinner For One.

But it was a very good chilli. Even after the following incarnations

Monday - Burritos

I won’t patronise by offering a recipe for chilli con carne. You have one. I know that much and it would be foolish to think you would change it in any way. It matters not whether it is a genuine Texan number with chuck steak or a basic ragu pepped up with kidney beans and spices.

A burrito should be aching at the seams, the contents desperate for liberation, hence the need to employ a foil girdle. The meat sauce sits atop a layer of Mexican style rice and is piled high with grated cheese, chopped salad, sour cream, guacamole, salsa and as much hot sauce as you can handle.

Tuesday – Enchiladas

The chilli was stuffed into toasted tortilla wraps, rolled and topped with a reduced passata pepped up with a little garlic and chilli pepper. The whole lot was then baked for 25 minutes until steaming hot to the core. Sliced avocado was the ideal accessory.

Wednesday – Keeping it simple…

We got drunk. Accidentally. Returning home with the munchies we ladled the sauce and leftover burrito rice into a bowl, put the microwave on high and shovelled it into our mouths in an effort to soak up excess cheap white wine. It was nigh on perfect. There is no photo.

Thursday – Chilli and Cornbread

Cornbread is one of those items that has a shiny stars and stripes mystique. A hallowed national dish from across the pond that until last week remained a mystery, like a sloppy Joes or Jambalaya or grits.

It was with caution I tipped the recommended amount of baking powder into the batter mix (cornbread is more of a cake than a standard loaf) and as expected it was the overriding flavour to a deeply unpleasant degree. Such excitement, such expectation, such disappointment. Sorry, America, I remain unconvinced on this one.

Friday – Nachos

What better way to end the week than with that Brit pub/diner classic/lazy fallback of last decade, nachos?

Clearly the best part of this dish is the slew of lurid orange cheese that seeps between the crispy tortilla chips and covers the fingers with a layer of tasty grease. But the cooling elements of guacamole, salsa and sour cream and chives were a welcome addition too.

A satisfying and fun experiment in thrift. The cost of the chilli itself? No more than £4, the sundry additions another fiver. Two of us ate for a week (including lunches comprised of the previous night’s leftovers) for about ten pounds.

Now to get some bloody steak…

Not enough for you? How about some Twitter?


Kristin said...

If you had room in your freezer, chili does freeze well. My family would have mutineed had I served chili, even in those various incarnations, so many nights in a row.

Hollow Legs said...

I am sad that my cornbread suggestion didn't go down well. Good job on surviving on it all week though.

Just Cook It said...

Kristin - Next time the freeser shall be employed, that's for sure.

Lizzie - Oh gawd, don't be sad - I was fiendishly excited about it. Just plumped for a lousy recipe, is all!

scandilicious said...

Ah the many incarnations of chilli con carne - great idea! Made some this past weekend and it's obviously supremely comforting during these dog days of winter but I reckon after a week of eating it I'd be ready for something else too :)

Just Cook It said...

Scandilicious - You're right, it's perfect for this time of year. But not for a while again

Hopie said...

Wow that all looks yummy. In fact the only thing I can think of better than a week of Chilli would be a month of sausages ;-)

Dave said...

So much baking powder you could taste it? Yikes.

1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder (slightly rounded)
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 cup veg oil

Sift dry ingredients together, mix wet ingredients separately, then combine them and stir enough to moisten. Tip into a square baking pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 425 F (gas mark 7.)

I don't know what the recipe you used was like, but cornbread should have a balance of ground maize and standard wheat flour for a ggod crumb and a proper rise. The recipe above is what I've used for 20 years & never had it taste of the baking powder.

Also - did you really put the powder into the batter rather than with the dry ingredients? That's...unusual.

matt said...

wow, fantastic post - and those photos, blimey mate they look fantastic!

Just Cook It said...

Hopie - I am increasingly tempted to try it. That would be a challenge worth taking up

Dave - thanks so much for the recipe and tips. 20 years of service is a worthy seal of approval. I will certainly try that out

Matt - Cheers mate. It's amazing what a new camera can do!

Alicia Foodycat said...

That's hilarious. Cornbread is a brilliant accompaniment for chilli, I think you must have had a dud recipe.

Anonymous said...

Delicous stuff but the I expect that here. We once had a very similar experience with brasied lentils, I'd just fisished the last portion of a mothership quantity for lunch (my boyfriend had put his foot down by that point) only to be faced with another vast portion of lentils and cotecino at supper....I struggled.
I will sound like a real sycophant but I am really chuffed by your comments.

Ollie said...

A foil girdle! Love it. Congrats on major thriftiness, Alex.