This is the besterist chilli recipe you'll ever find. It's a batch chilli which means that you make a lot eat it all at once or freeze it in portion sized portions. (* see footnote)
On the day before you decide to make your chilli, soak 800g of dried Red Kidney Beans. In my case I did know I was making a chilli so I followed this instruction but in case you don’t know you’re making a chilli you’ll need to add several tins of pre-cooked Red Kidney Beans to your shopping list. Dried beans tend to take on over twice their weight in water, so when soaked and cooked my 700g became just over 1.5Kg of prepared beans. As you will see this chilli is one of equal parts so there is mostly the same amount of each of the main ingredients.
Start off by skipping to the end of this essay and make sure you have all the ingredients you need. Once you have everything laid out on a work surface start the peeling chopping and unwrapping. I start with the garlic; peel it crush it and roughly chop it. Peel your onions and cut them into chunks. The chillies, I just slice whole up the length holding on to the stalk end which I discard. The green peppers I deseed and cut into 2cm pieces.
At this point I realised I needed something to cook my chilli in. This chilli is a big one so if you don’t have a good sized pan you’d best get a calculator out and reduce the amounts below by some proportion. When I started this one I knew I’d not get it into one pan but I went for it anyway and got all but about a quarter of it cooking in “The Big One”. My two large pans are both 28cm diameter, one being 15cm deep with a pair of handles and my usual stew pan, the other is only 8 cm deep and a sauté pan.
Taking the bacon and after roughly cutting it up, I put it in a large frying pan on a high heat. Pretty soon all the water and some of the fat started to run out, which I spooned into my sauté pan and heated to drive off the water. I had to do this a couple of times as the bacon was the cheap stuff. While the bacon was browning to just short of crisp I put about half the Onion into the sauté pan to soften in the bacon run-off. Once the bacon was ready I added the rest of the onion and the garlic along with the jar of ground cumin and gave it a stir before adding the chopped chillies.
In the sauté pan the onions had softened nicely so I added the jar of Oregano and stirred both pans, lowering the heat to allow the herb and spice to cook through. Once done I tipped the whole lot into the big pan on the lowest flame on the small back ring of my stove, to gently warm up.
The Green Peppers came next which I wanted to fry off until soft and the edges were browned slightly. In retrospect I might have roasted them to add a smoky flavour or perhaps just put them straight into the big pan, anyway I digress.
Now it was time to fry off the mince. I had three 500g packs so I put one in each of the two pans I’d been frying in, and broke it up. I didn’t want to find lumps of meat in my chilli later. Once coloured and separate I tipped the mince into the big pan and gave it a stir before doing the same with the last pack of mince.
Finally I poured a good slug of red wine into each of the frying pans to lift off all the stuck on flavoursome goo that had accumulated. This then went into the big pan too. I gave the whole lot a good stir to mix everything properly and shift anything that had stuck to the bottom.
Leaving the chilli on the stove to do its thing for a while, I cleared everything I had used away and washed up the frying pans and binned the rubbish.
Back at the stove there was a nice gloop sound beginning to come from the chilli as all the juice from the meat and vegetables was starting to mingle. At this point it was time for the first tasting. I had got the richness I wanted from the Cumin and the background heat from the salsa chillies was coming through nicely. Last Christmas I’d been given a bar of chocolate covered in Chilli Flakes. I tried a piece at the time and immediately decided the rest of it would go in the next chilli I cooked. This was that chilli; I broke it up and in it went with a quick stir.
At this point I needed to decide on the final heat of my chilli. I wanted something with a bit of a spike but not so much that neither the other ingredients couldn’t be tasted nor the guests leave it on the plate. That would be a waste. Either way there’s always a bottle of West Indian Hot Pepper Sauce in the cupboard for anyone to use. So to add a little heat I took 5 Bird Eye Chillies and rolled them gently in my hand to loosen the seeds, then holding each by the short stalk I split them from top to tip keeping both halves attached to the stalk and carefully removed the seeds. The deseeded chillies then went into the pan as they were. I figured that if the chilli started to get too hot they’d be easy to find and take out.
It was now time to add the Chopped Tomatoes. After tipping the tomatoes into the pan there was barely an inch of room left in the pan and I still had nearly 2Kg of cooked Red Kidney Beans to add. I left the pan to bubble away for half an hour, spattering the splash back with drops of sauce and stirring it every 10 minutes to keep it off the bottom of the pan until it had reduced a bit and was thickening nicely.
Now for the beans; using a Kebab Skewer I measured how deep the chilli was in the pan, then I transferred a third of it into the Sauté Pan I’d used earlier making sure that not all the Bird Eye chillies ended up in one pan. Then spoon by spoon I measured the Red Kidney Beans 2:1 into the respective pans and stirred them in. A quick reorganisation of the hob, placing the larger pan on a larger ring and the smaller pan on the smallest ring and simmering continued. The pans bubbled and I gently stirred for another 10 minutes before stirring in the Tomato Puree, a whole tube in the big pan and the ½ tube in the small pan. Stir and simmer for another 20 minutes and the chilli was done.
• 1.5Kg of Cooked Red Kidney Beans
• A couple of plashes of Vegetable Oil
• 1Kg Smoked Bacon Rashers
• 6 Large Onions (about 1.5Kg)
• 5 Small (it’s all they had) Heads of Garlic
• 46g Jar Cumin
• 14g Jar Oregano
• 1.5Kg Green Peppers
• 150g Mixed Chillies (the kind you use for Salsa)
• 4 Dessert Spoons of Soft Brown Sugar
• 1.5Kg Lean Minced Beef
• 5 Bird Eye Chillies
• 4 x 390g cartons of Chopped Tomatoes (about 1.5Kg)
• 1½ Tubes of Tomato Puree
• 1 Bar of Chilli Flake covered Chocolate
* Following the tubbing exercise I can confirm that the above recipe will produce 30 portions.