I'm not quite sure how chilli con carne became a Bonfire Night tradition; it certainly has nothing to do with burning traitors. But, alongside bonfire toffee, roasted marshmallows and winter Pimms, it has become a staple accompaniment for this oh-so-bizarre holiday. I'm guessing it has something to do with being a dish that is such a crowd-pleaser, as well as being so easy to make for said crowd. It's a one-pot dish and takes very little prep; there's no need to be fancy with this dish, which is just as well really, since you'll probably be eating it whilst wearing wooly gloves. The secret is in the mix of spices; the surprise ingredient is a few squares of dark chocolate - just enough to deepen the flavours and thicken the sauce. Chilli with dark chocolate; try it, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.
For four-to-five hungry mouths, you'll need:
- 500g beef mince
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 beef stock cube
- 2 peppers, chopped
- A handful of mushrooms, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 can of chopped tomatoes
- 1 can of kidney beans, drained
- 1 large glass of red wine
- Big squeeze of tomato paste
- 3(ish) squares of dark chocolate
- 1 tbsp. smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp. cayenne chilli pepper
- 1/2 tbsp. dried chilli flakes
- 1/2 tbsp. cumin
- 1 tbsp. chipotle paste
- Sprinkle of sugar
- Salt and pepper (obvs)
Although, as with all good chilli recipes, it's easy to double/triple/quadruple as needed. Just make sure you have a big enough saucepan! I've put down how much spice I used in mine, because I like it fairly fiery with a good kick but you can adjust to your own tastes as necessary. It's better to start with less and then add - you can't take away that chilli kick once it's there; at least, not without a good deal with effort. Better to be cautious, in this instance.
1. Grab a large saucepan (the largest) and heat some oil. Add the mince and onion, crumble over the beef stock cube and cook until the meat starts to brown and the onions start to soften. Stir regularly so nothing sticks and to break up any big lumps of mince.
2. Add the garlic, peppers and mushrooms and cook until the mince is fully brown, and the veggies are on their way! They don't need to be fully cooked at this stage so don't worry.
3. Pour over the chopped tomatoes and wine. Add the kidney beans to the mix and give it all a big stir. Now it's time for the flavouring!
4. There's no ceremony here: basically just add the rest of the ingredients! A big squidge of tomato paste, all your spices, a good sprinkling of sugar to neutralise any sharpness in the tomatoes, liberal seasoning with the salt and pepper. Throw it all in there and stir it up. Last but not least, pop in your squares of dark chocolate and watch them melt before they get lost in the mix.
5. Turn down the heat and simmer (the mixture should be bubbling, but not furiously) for around 40 minutes. The longer, the better. Stir occasionally and after about 20 minutes you can start tasting and checking for flavour. Add in any extra spice you think you need.
6. Once the sauce has thickened and your 40 minutes (at least) are up, serve generously on fluffy baked potatoes, topped with cheese or soured cream. For a perfect baked potato, prick the skin and microwave for 4 minutes before covering in oil and seasoning and baking in the oven for 20 minutes. Crispy skin, fluffy potato. Perfection.