This week’s highlight was winning a ticket to the 2013 Mumsnet BlogFest (for more details, click here)! I really was in shock! I went last year when my blog was but a month old, and was bowled over by the amazing group of bloggers I met, and the quality of the panels for the various topics up for discussion, so I am thrilled to be going again this year. I am looking forward to catching up with blogging friends, and meeting some more lovely people (if you are going, let me know, so I can say hi!) and hearing speakers such as Tanya Byron, the inspirational Jack Monroe from A Girl Called Jack and a whole host of fellow bloggers. Yippee!
So, from BlogFest to, er, mince! (nice segue there…) I recently discovered that there are recipe books devoted entirely to mince. I kid you not. From Favourite Mince Recipes and Marvellous Meals with Mince (by cookery doyenne Josceline Dimbleby no less) to the imaginatively titled Mince! it would appear that us Brits genuinely love the stuff. Certainly, it’s versatile, and children do tend to love it. So is there life beyond spaghetti bolognaise, which I make quite often (i.e. all the time)? I felt compelled to try something different… and so, I bring you chile con carne! It is so easy to make, I hope this will fast become a tea-time hit in your house, too.
I was particularly keen to try chile on the children, because kidney beans are a great source of fibre, protein and B vitamins and provide slow-releasing energy – perfect for active kids (and super heroes…), and I want them to eat more pulses. But I was conscious that adding chilli would make it instantly spicy, and hence a risky option, so I just use cumin and coriander.
So, don’t panic, it’s not spicy – it just has a lovely rich, warming flavour, primarily from the cumin, which gives it that Mexican chile-style hit. Initially I was a bit nervous about the reaction I’d get to the kidney beans, so rather than serving the chile with rice, I served it in tortilla wraps to hide the kidney beans (I know, I know), with a bit of rice, grated cheese, cut-up avocado and a dollop of sour cream. No complaints about kidney beans. In no fact complaints about anything – they loved it. And, alongside the good old faithful spag bol, this has become a family favourite.
You do need time to make it – while it’s dead easy to throw together, and hence the perfect recipe for a busy parent, it needs 1½ hours in the oven so make sure you have a window of time available. You also need a decent pan which will transfer from the hob to the oven. It freezes really well and makes an easy meal when friends come to play.
Perfect for bonfire night, served with jacket potatoes, or boiled rice (with a dollop of sour cream and some grated cheddar), or go the whole hog and do the tortilla wrap option – it’s delicious, I promise. Oh, and for the grown-ups, add a nice glass of red. In fact, I even asked lovely Helen from The Knackered Mother’s Wine Club what wine she’d recommend, and she suggests La Posta Argentinian Malbec from Majestic or Tesco Finest Chilean Carmenere.
Don’t say I’m not good to you.
Chile con Carne
Makes 8–10 child-sized portions
You will need:
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 small red pepper, chopped*
400g beef mince
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 x 400g tin kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 x 400g tin of tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
What to do:
- Preheat the oven to 160C/140C Fan/320F
- Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed oven proof pan (I use my Le Creuset) and sauté the onions, peppers and mince allowing the meat to brown a little.
- Add the cumin and coriander and stir well.
- Add the kidney beans, tomatoes and water, season well, and bring to a gentle simmer.
- Cover with a lid and put in the oven for 1½ hours, stirring every 30 minutes or so.
- Skim off any excess fat before serving.
* Note, if you don’t have a red pepper, I’ve also used courgette and carrot in its place, and it still worked a treat.
Enjoy round the bonfire 🙂