I’m a big fan of the Pioneer Woman‘s blog (but I’ve had to stop reading her because her food posts are just PURE EVIL), so here is my little ripoff of homage to PW’s recipe style (though with admittedly craptastic photography – how do all those foodies get such gorgeous pics of food cooking without their lenses fogging up in the steam?):
Chilli Sin Carne (Chilli Without Meat).
- 2 largish red (spanish) onions
- 2 small red birds-eye chillies, de-seeded (or not, if you like it hot) and sliced finely
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- herbs according to taste
- plenty of mushrooms (I use about 12 nice little fresh button mushrooms)
- 2 medium red capsicums
- 2-3 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 2 medium carrots
- 2-3 smallish zucchinis
- 1 x 440g can of red kidney beans
- 1 x 825g can of chopped tomatoes
- 500ml beef stock (or vegetable stock or even water)
- several good big glugs of red wine (optional)
- juice of 1/2 a lemon
The next step is to do ALL of the prep. Open the cans, drain and rinse the beans, crush the garlic, chop up all the veg (if you’re not used to working with fresh chillies, please make sure you wash you hands immediately after you cut them up. Trust me, you do NOT want to rub chilli juice in your eyes). I like a fairly fine dice for chilli; in fact I grate the carrot and zucchini. But feel free to make yours chunky if you like. This really is one of those easy-going recipes that you can customise to suit yourself.
Now, in a large, heavy-based pan (preferably one that can go into the oven, too), heat a tiny smear of olive oil and saute the onion and chilli, just until it softens and turns translucent. When your kitchen smells so good you want to bite something, it’s time to add the garlic and herbs. As you can see in the top photo, I used pre-crushed garlic and herbs in a tube (Gourmet Garden Italian herb blend). That’s because I don’t have my herb-garden up and running yet, and the s’market here in town doesn’t have much in the way of fresh herbs. Whatever you’re using, add it now. Stir things about a bit, until everything is more-or-less combined, and it’s smelling even better.
The mushrooms and capsicum go in next. It looks like a ton at first, but it cooks down pretty quickly. Once it’s softened, add the tomato paste and a glug of wine (or stock if you’re not using wine). Rule #1 for cooking with wine: if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it. Anyone who tells you that it’s okay to cook with crap wine is just trying to offload a keg of swill. For this recipe, you need something with some oomph – the soft reds have their place, but it’s not in chili. I’m using a big, gutsy Pepper Tree 2005 Cabernet Merlot.
Next up is the carrot and zucchini. Give them a good stir until everything is mixed together nicely, and then add the beans, followed by the tomatoes.
I love these beans – they’re just so beautiful, big and fat and purply-red, and so shiny!
The tomatoes I like to use are Ardmona Rich and Thick Finely Chopped (mostly because they are really good tomatoes, but also because I fondly remember their magazine ad campaign, which consisted of a full page photo of a celebrity such as Fabio, Anna Nicole Smith, or Paris Hilton above the legend “Rich and Thick”. Made me giggle every time I saw it). At this point, the chilli is quite thick and gluggy. Keep it on a low heat, stirring occasionally, until it starts to make that pfffft-blooop! noise. Then it’s time to add the stock, the rest of the wine, and the lemon juice. Bring it back up to a simmer and have a bit of a taste-test, adjusting your seasonings: add some salt if you think it needs it, or a bit of chili-sauce if you want more of a burn. Totally up to you.
Now it’s decision time:
- IF you’re in a hurry, you can simmer it on the stove top for half-an-hour or so and then serve (if you do this you might want to add a tablespoon or so of brown sugar to cut the acid in the tomatoes).
- OR! You can take it really, really slow: put a lid on your pan and put it in the oven at 150*-160* C for 2-3 hours. Trust me: if you’ve got the time, this is the way to go. The long slow cooking allows all the flavours to blend and you will end up with a magically rich, deceptively decadent casserole.
Serve with crusty bread rolls and a glass of red, or as a side dish with the grilled meat of your choice, or if you’ve been a bit spendthrift with your WW Points, just by itself – it’s zero points! Yay!
If you’d like this recipe in a more printable format, leave a message in the comments, and I can email you the short version in a Word document. I don’t know how to drive PDF yet.