Beef and Bean Chilli pie with Cornbread Dumplings

I so often wonder what – if anything – my kids will think about the food they ate growing up. I grew up with solid, nutritious meals that were pretty typical of Australian households in the ’80s and 90’s: meat and 3 veg, sausages, and my very favourite, spaghetti bolognese. How I eat as an adult is SO different to how I ate as a child, and because I wasn’t a particularly adventurous eater growing up, I still feel I have a hell of a lot of learning to do. It pleases me that my kids already love trying new things and exploring the cultural elements of cooking, eating, and learning about food. I hope that this continues into their adult years, and that when they think back on it (do people other than me do this? Maybe not.), they recognise that a big part of the reason I’m always trying new recipes is because it’s important to me that they try new things and appreciate the origins and contexts of the food they eat.

Anyway, all that actually has little to do with this recipe, which isn’t particularly difficult or exotic. It’s just an insight into the things that run through my head when I’m cooking. Tonight went from “I hope my daughter likes this… I wonder if I’d have liked this when I was 9?” to something more existentially wanky.

It’s clearly a bit carby and cheesy, but still, it just hits 500 calories, which is reasonable. It’s a big recipe, in that it serves 6, but nobody will complain at lunchtime tomorrow! The original recipe from Womens Weekly Veg Night at Home was (obviously) vegetarian, but I swapped out two cans of beans for 500g lean mince, and honestly, I’m not at all sorry.

Ingredients

1tbs olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 medium yellow capsicum (any colour is fine, but yellow is my favourite), diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

500g lean beef mince

400g can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed.

2tsp cayenne powder (adjust for taste – this is spicy but bearable)

1tsp ground cumin

1tsp paprika

1tsp ground coriander

800g tinned diced tomatoes

1.5 cups beef stock

Cornbread dumplings

1.5 cups self raising flour

1.5 cups polenta

90g butter, chopped

1 egg

50g grated cheddar

100g corn kernels (frozen is fine, and don’t worry about defrosting them)

2tbs milk.

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200C.
  2. Heat oil over medium-low heat in an oven proof skillet. Add onion, capsicum and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until softened.
  3. Add mince, and cook on high heat for 5 minutes, until browned. Add beans, tomatoes, stock and spices, and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes until thickened slightly.
  4. Meanwhile, combine flour and polenta and rub in butter until it resembled very damp sand. Stir in egg, corn, cheddar and milk, to combine into a sticky dough.
  5. Remove the chilli from heat. Form 6 balls of dough and gently drop onto the chilli. Bake for 20 minutes, or until dumplings have cooked through and turned golden.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Mongrel Chilli

Years ago, an online acquaintance from Texas gave me her recipe for some of the best chilli I’ve ever had. I’ve since lost both the acquaintance and the recipe, and spend my days searching to recreate this amazing celebration of spiciness.

What I remember most of this unicorn of a recipe is that it had black beer, coffee, whiskey and cocoa in it. It was dark, complex, dramatic and extremely impressive It also had red kidney beans and beef, tomatoes and – rather obviously – fresh chillies, ground cayenne and a sprinkle of dried chilli flakes. It was HOT. It also made the most insanely delectable chilli dogs ever.

Over the years, I’ve tried others – some good, some great, and some downright awful. It’s become obvious that I simply had to make my own recipe based on what I could remember of T’s chilli, and the good bits of other recipes – hence the name. Here, I’ve swapped the very delicious red kidney beans for inky black beans, which changes the flavour profile quite a bit, but not for the worse. I’ve decided they’re completely interchangeable here. Perhaps half and half would be an option? I’ll have to try it one day. I also used chuck steak here, but I feel the original recipe might have called for mince. The steak, however, falls apart after 4 hours of stewing, and lets the beans shine the ingredient that holds it all together – I don’t think kidney beans could do that quite so well.

This mongrel of a recipe easily feeds 8 – and still provide leftovers. Luckily, it freezes beautifully. I served this with cabbage and potato buns, and have plans to make burritos with them next Thursday night, which is crazy night in this household. Even after this second meal, I’ll suspect we will have have leftovers (I’ve portioned my frozen chilli so that none goes to waste). It makes a lot, but we don’t really eat it by the bowlful. Those who do, will obviously not be eating quite so much frozen leftover chilli.

Ingredients

2tbs oil,

1 onion, diced

3 red chillies, finely chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic

2tsp ground cumin

2tsp ground coriander

1tsp dried chilli flakes

750g chuck steak, cubed

80ml whiskey

330ml stout or black beer

375g dried black beans (no need to soak)

1/2 tsp cayenne

2tsp cocoa

1 shot espresso

750ml beef stock

400g diced tinned tomatoes

2tbs maple syrup or treacle

salt and pepper, to taste

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160C.
  2. Heat 1tbs oil in a large cast iron pot (with a tight lid) over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, and add onion, garlic and chillies. Sweat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant. Stir in cumin, coriander and chilli flakes.
  3.  Increase heat to medium-high, add the extra oil, tumble in the steak and stir to brown.
  4.  Add the whiskey, and when this has stopped frothing, the beer. Stir to combine.
  5. Pour in the dried black beans, then the stock, tomatoes, espresso, cayenne, cocoa and maple syrup. Give it all a good stir, season, and bring to the boil.
  6. Transfer to the oven, and cook for 4 hours, checking periodically to ensure that it hasn’t dried out. If it’s looking a little parched, top it up with a half cup or so of water, stir, and place back in the oven.

 

 Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail