Nigella’s amazing chilli con carne

Now here’s a beef chilli recipe that delivers a gorgeously rich tomato flavour enhanced by the chilli heat – it’s never failed to go down well with my family. In Nigella’s book Feast she makes a big deal of topping it with a cornbread crust, but I usually dispense with that because it’s a lot of work for not much extra reward. And for a good wine to match here’s an example of how you don’t have to keep to the red wine with red meat rule – most reds are far too high in alcohol and tannin to cope well with spicy chilli heat.

riesling wineThe wine

Bassermann-Jordan’s 2009 Pfalz Riesling (Waitrose, £9.99) is Riesling made in an off-dry style, but with so much thrilling and spicy fruit you don’t notice. It’s relatively low in alcohol (10%) which neatly avoids turning up the heat in the chilli to furnace levels. But the ‘wow’ moment comes when you notice how a mouthful of chilli amplifies the fruit flavours – the wine literally tastes so much better with food.


The food

In Feast, Nigella gives recipe quantities for serving 20, but here I give you enough for a family of five with some left over to spare:

1 onion
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon dried or crushed chillies
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cardamon pods, bruised
1 red pepper
500g minced beef
1 can chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1 can red kidney beans

In a large pan heat two tablespoons olive oil and add the finely chopped onion and crushed garlic clove and fry until they begin to soften. Add all the spices and stir well, de-seed and chop the pepper and add. Break the mince into the pan and stir it around until it browns. Add the chopped tomatoes, ketchup, tomato puree and kidney beans and add a can of water. Stir and simmer partially covered for one and a half hours (this is what thoroughly steeps all the tomato flavours).

It’s a fairly mild recipe, so you might want to taste it before simmering and add more chilli to ramp up the heat if you like it stronger. Don’t try doing that at the end though – it needs simmering to thoroughly integrate all the flavours.

I often feel I could just pack all the spices for this recipe pre-measured in a bag and take it with me when I travel so I can cook this wherever I go.

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