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.

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Risoni Vegetable Bolognese

I had every intention of making a tomato and meatball soup today, I really did. But when push came to shove, I just could not be bothered rolling meatballs. Besides, right now, the idea of squishing other peoples’ food around in my hands sounds tone deaf, all things considered. But really, I just couldn’t be bothered, let’s be honest.

Instead, I dumped everything in one pot, at the advice of Nagi at Recipe Tin Eats. This isn’t her exact recipe – I upped the veggie intake, and cut back on the risoni a little, but the spirit of her recipe is there. And it’s perfect for those CBF kinds of nights. The whole ordeal took maybe 20 minutes, it’s made on staples/stuff I found in my fridge and cabinets (again, perfect for Corona-geddon), was tasty and comforting, and was gobbled up by everyone. It’s not like usual bolognese recipe, but the benefit of that is that you could pretty much throw anything into it and have it come up a winner. It’s one of those magical recipes. So I’m writing it down so that I don’t forget it!

Nagi’s recipe clocked in at 484 calories; mine is 400. Either way, it’s better than takeaway!

Ingredients

1 brown onion

2 cloves garlic, crushed

200g mushrooms, sliced

500g lean mince

700ml passata

2tbs Worcestershire sauce

3 cups chicken stock

2tsp dried parsley

2tsp dried oregano

1tsp dried thyme

1tsp dried basil

1tsp sweet paprika

cayenne pepper, to taste

1 medium zucchini, diced

1 cup risoni/orzo

60g baby spinach

salt and pepper, to taste

Grated parmesan cheese, to taste

Method

  1. Add onion, garlic and mushrooms to a non stick pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until vegetables are soft and golden.
  2. Brown mince with onion mixture, breaking it up as it cooks.
  3. Stir in passata, herbs, Worcestershire sauce, stock and zucchini. Bring to a simmer, add risoni and stir to distribute evenly.
  4. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the risoni from sticking to the bottom. As you get closer to the ten minute mark, you may need to stir more frequently.
  5. Take off heat, stir in spinach.
  6. Serve, topped with parmesan and seasoned with salt and pepper.

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