Baby Loves Chili Con Carne

We've been blessed with a baby who loves food - loves to try new food, loves spicy food, loves feeding himself, loves to eat what we're eating... It's just an absolute joy. Don't get me wrong, when cooking I do watch what goes into our food - salt, spices etc. So far though, he hasn't found anything that he doesn't like.

Just the other day he was eating Corn Fritters and loved them. Despite there being quite a kick to them (fresh Jalapenos!). So it got me thinking. It's been ages since I cooked a Chili and obviously Baby Bear has never tried one. So it was decided. Out came the Chili Con Carne recipe and away I went.

First up I will say that while I don't find this recipe to have any particular hotness or kick to it, I will show you at the end how you can dial up or dial down the spiciness. Otherwise, as always, you can just add a little Creme Fraiche or Natural Yogurt to bring down the heat if you feel it is too spicy.

Christian's Chili Con Carne

500g Aberdeen Angus Steak Mince (substitute your prefered minced beef as you like, though I recommend a low fat mince)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onions, sliced as per your liking
1 red onion, sliced as per your liking
1 pepper, chopped as per your liking
3 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal into 1cm lengths
2 carrots (5-6" each), sliced into 0.5cm discs
1 small tin kidney beans in chilli sauce
1 tin mixed beans in spicy tomato sauce
1 tin plum tomatoes in tomato sauce
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp fresh chilli, finely chopped
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp dried coriander
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 tsp garlic granules
2 tsp onion granules
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp smoked paprika
2 tsp salt
3 tsp black pepper
3 dashes worcestershire sauce
4 tbsp tomato ketchup (always Heinz!)
200ml water (room temp.)

Put your beef in a mixing bowl and add the mustard seeds, ground cumin, dried coriander, dried oregano, garlic granules, onion granules, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, salt, black pepper, worcestershire sauce, 2 tbsp tomato ketchup. Carefully 'turn' the herbs and spices through the beef - the goal is to mix everything as much as possible but using as little effort as possible. The more you mash and mix the beef, the tougher it will get. This is true whenever you are working with minced meat - feck around with it as little as possible before cooking! Ideally do this several hours before cooking to properly marinate the meat.

Put your oil in a large pot (this is where the chili will happen so make sure it's big enough) with the chopped garlic and chili. Cook at a medium heat (no burning!). As soon as the chili and garlic start to sizzle, add your onions. Mix well to coat the onion in the chili and garlic oil. Put the lid on the pot and allow the onions to sweat for 5min.

Once the onions are good and soft, put the beef mix into the pot. Gently mix the onions and beef through and add the pepper. Allow the beef to brown and add the mixed beans, kidney beans and plum tomatoes. Mix through and leave to cook for 15min.

Add the spring onion, carrots and remaining tomato ketchup. Cook for 15min and add the water. Bring the hob heat right down (chili should be very, very gently bubbling), put the lid on and allow the chili to cook for at least another 15min.

I served the chili with brown rice but white rice or pasta is fine - whatever you like best. With regard the hotness / spiciness of the dish, as you may have guessed, most of your adjustment will come through increasing or reducing the amount of fresh chilli used. Don't change the dry ingredients though (dried chilli flakes). These are really about flavour rather than hotness. You may also want to change the type of chilli that you are using. Birdseye, Scotch Bonnet or Habanero chillis will all massively increase the temp. Of course they will also change the flavour somewhat. If chilli hotness worries you, just use ordinary peppers - these have no heat at all.

Finally, if I could give you one bit of advice when making this... make it a day before you intend to eat it. Refrigerate it and allow it to 'mature'. I guarantee it will be even nicer the day after cooking. Obviously this also means that if you eat it on the day of cooking, any leftovers the next day will be delicious!

Oh, and as you may have guessed from the title... Beckett absolutely loved his first Chili Con Carne :)
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