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Heston Blumenthal’s recipe for Chilli Con Carne is one of the longest in his new book, Heston at Home, comprising four stages and 30 ingredients. But, hey, I ‘work from home’, I’ve got time on my hands, and it keeps me away from the ironing pile.
I’ve taken short cuts on some stages (soaking kidney beans, for example – I used a tin instead) and cooking down tomatoes (I used a tin instead) but Heston said this would be OK – and if it’s OK with Heston, who am I to argue?
I’ve also omitted his most theatrical maneouvre – setting fire to a pile of wood to create an authentic smoky flavour. We live in a flat and I don’t think the insurance would cover it. And I couldn’t be bothered with the corn muffins, so used shop-bought warm corn tortillas instead.
But despite the lack of smouldering embers, I am here to tell you that this is the BEST chilli I have ever tasted. In fact, I am going to have to re-write the recipe book my wife gave me a few Christmases ago in which I wrote the words: ‘Best chilli I’ve ever tasted.’
It was then. It isn’t now.
2 tbsp olive oil
1½ tsp ground cumin
1½ tsp cayenne pepper
1½ tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp tomato ketchup
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp Marmite
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the kidney beans
400g tin kidney beans
400g tin chopped tomatoes
For the chilli
450g minced beef
1 large onion, peeled and diced
2 star anise
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 green chilli, de-seeded and diced
30g tomato purée
375ml red wine
50g spiced butter (or more if desired)
3 medium tomatoes, diced
500ml beef stock
To finish and serve
2 red peppers, de-seeded, roasted and peeled then chopped
Salt and black pepper
Finely grated zest and juice of 3 limes
1. To make the butter, heat the olive oil in a frying pan and lightly fry the cumin and chilli powder for a couple of seconds. Pour into a bowl and add the smoked paprika, tomato ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, Marmite and butter. Mix together thoroughly, cover and keep in the fridge until required (for up to a week), or freeze for a month.
2. For the beans/tomatoes: add the two tins to a saucepan and heat through. Leave to cool, then tip into a container. Add this mixture to the chilli when completed.
3. To start the chilli, coat the bottom of a large saucepan with olive oil and place over a high heat until smoking hot.
4. Add the mince, in batches if necessary so that it browns rather than stews, and cook until evenly coloured. Remove and drain the meat.
5. Add a little water to the same pan to deglaze it, and tip the water and bits in with the drained meat so none of the flavour is lost. Turn the heat down to medium and add another thin layer of olive oil. Add the onion and star anise and cook over a medium-high heat for approximately 7–10 minutes until the onion begins to colour, then add the carrot, garlic and green chilli. Cook for another 10 minutes or until the carrot is soft.
6. Add the tomato purée, stir and cook for another 5 minutes until everything turns a brick-red colour. Pour in the red wine and allow to reduce by two-thirds. Remove the star anise and discard.
7. Stir in the spiced butter (for mild-medium heat), the browned mince, diced tomatoes and stock, and simmer over a low heat for 2–3 hours, stirring occasionally.
8.To finish the chilli, fold the beans and chopped peppers into the chilli, and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, lime zest and juice, and stir in more spiced butter to increase the heat. Serve with grated cheese, soured cream and corn tortillas.