Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Cowboy Style Chilli Con Carne & The Best Service Station Ever

I have been wanting to try out making a proper chilli con carne for ages and had been on the hunt for a slow cooker to do it in - firstly because I've never used one before and wanted to try it out, and secondly so I could have lovely, tender meat and not have to eat really late at night. As I didn't find/borrow/buy one in time, this meal was eaten in the post 10 o'clock hours and I couldn't sleep on my front that night because of my swollen beef filled belly.

In the uni years chilli with tons of beans thrown in is a staple of cheap and easy cooking, especially when your flat mates are sniffing around for any leftovers. This I think was my first 'proper' chilli and I categorise it as 'proper' because of two factors - I didn't use mince and I didn't use beans. After seeing a recipe on the wonderful Hollow Legs blog which quoted that 'only poor people and vegetarians put beans in their chilli' I thought I'd try to stay clear of those categories. After all no one wants to be wrongly labelled a vegetarian.

Of course the meat I used was as ever from the reduced section. The reduced section in a service station.

I can feel you recoiling in horror, but this isn't what it seems. I think I have found the most magical service station in the entire country, ney perhaps the entire continent. I was coming back from a weekend with the other halves family, and when I say family I mean the whole darn lot - aunts, uncles, grandparents, and numerous children whose names I couldn't remember. We pulled in to Tebay Services and I couldn't believe my tiny little half asleep eyes, there was a pond with ducks, hills on every side, a cafe full of amazing home cooked food and a farm shop with butchers, deli counter and all sorts of wonderful jars, teas, biscuits and pies. In the meat section we found some tender looking braising steak with a gorgeous marbling and reduced to £1.65. We also got some of the most incredible brownies I've ever eaten but I don't know who the producer was. So if you are ever going through Cumbria,  Tebay services are my tip to you. I might not do fancy London restaurant reviews but I can now recommend on great service stations. And I can't even drive.

Back to the chilli, the meat was beautiful, a nice layer of fat for some flavour and with a nice spring to it. Much better than mince if that needed clarifying. As I don't like my food too spicy so I used two whole chipotles and let them give the sauce a wonderful smokey flavour through the slow cooking. For some this recipe will seem like a tame house cat amongst potential ferocious lions ready to rip your tongue off but that's the way I eat and I still needed a couple of glasses of water to wash it down. Home made corn chips are a nice touch and when I say home made I mean shallow frying some flour tortillas to make them all crisp and crunchy.

Even though I ate after 10 this was totally worth it even though the 3 hours waiting for it to cook proved pretty testing with some stale baguette being dipped in the sauce to starve off the hunger.

O and I am back to my rubbish blackberry camera until I eventually get round to buying an SLR, I apologise but at least i'm not using the ugly plates this time.

Cowboy Style Chilli Con Carne

Cowboy Style Chilli Con Carne

Enough for 2

Ingredients For the Chilli
- Braising Steak
- 1 Carrot
- 1 Red Pepper
- 1 Onion
- 2 Cloves of Garlic
- 2 Chipotles
- A Cinnamon Stick
- Oregano
- Ground Cumin
- Ground Ginger
- Half a Can of Tomatoes
- Beef Stock
- Salt and Pepper

1. I started by heating oil in a large pan and frying the steak until it was brown on all sides. Then remove from the pan
2. Chop and peel the onions and carrot and slice the pepper, add to the oil and meat juices and fry until golden and soft, add the meat back in and add in the diced garlic, the ground ginger and cumin (more cumin than ginger, that's as specific as I will be), oregano. Make sure everything is covered.
3. Add the chipotle, cinnamon stick, beef stock and half a can of tomatoes - everything should be completely covered. Put the lid on the pot and leave on a low heat for 2.5 hours.
4. For my personal tastes I took the cinnamon stick out after 45 minutes as I'm not too keen on a strong cinnamon flavour but if you do leave it in.
5. After 2.5 hours take the lid off the pot and let the sauce reduce down.
6. Heat a frying pan with oil in it, cut a flour tortilla into triangles and fry a few pieces at once until brown and crisp, place on a drying rack to get rid of any excess oil + means they won't get soggy.
7. When the sauce has reduced, remove the 2 chipotles from the sauce then take a fork and pull it through the meat - it should easily fall apart and be beautifully tender.

Serve with a tomato salsa, the fresh tomatoes complimenting the deep, smokey flavour of the chilli. Scoop it all up onto a tortilla and try to fit it into your mouth.

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