Foods can carry memories. Each little mouthful brings up the moment of time I was last there, the last time I had jam on my face or icing sugar on my lips. I can’t eat raspberry muffins without thinking of breakfast in a sleepy cottage on the Isle of Skye, Gregg’s pasties without seeing the time I tripped over a tiny brick wall in front of a traffic jam because I was too enthralled with eating my meat and potato slice or delicious piece of Spanish omelette without hearing my grandma scolding me with ‘why aren’t you having seconds? Are you ill?!’ This, of course, was said very rarely, as I never refused seconds, thirds maybe but seconds, never.
For me, autumn will always be crispy leaves and starry nights. Eating chips on bonfire night. Watching overweight postmen slip on wet leaves. Bowls and bowls of chilli. It is pure comfort, like being hugged by a kitten wrapped in a cloud wearing a tiny woolly jumper. The stuff of dreams.
Chilli combines all the best things in this world; spice, meat and chilli peppers, the holy trinity of food. I never really made this much at home, because for us chilli was sacred and required the utmost respect and I failed my one chance at proving I was worthy of this task. One day I was given the reins to make it while everyone else was out and full of girlish delight, I started off with the best intentions but due to a short attention span and a TV with more than ten working channels, I quickly got all fidgeting, went off for a ‘minute’ and didn’t really come back at all. Mistake. When I did, I had burnt half entirely and the other half tasted like a barbequed tyre. I was never asked again. However, that is the beauty of university! Freedom, culinary freedom. I can make this now and it actually tastes good, not tyre-esque at all (did you hear that, dad?!)
Though the original of this is so paralyzingly hot you get a little frozen trout pout, this one is a milder but just as good. Feel free to freestyle a bit on the spice front and add your own extras, I know those pesky Mexicans like having a hunk of dark chocolate in but I am lactose intolerant so I put in a tablespoon of treacle instead. Don’t look at me like I am crazy, it makes it rich with a lovely underlying sweetness. Just try it, it’s going to be delicious.
What You Need
1 Pack of mince,
1 large onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 peppers, chopped
2 cans of chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon of treacle
Beef stock cube
1 teaspoon each of basil, chilli powder, paprika and cayenne pepper
Chilli flakes or actual chilli, depending on how hot you like it
1. Fry the onions and garlic until soft and transparent. Add paprika and chilli powder, stir so everything is covered and then cook until golden
2. Add the meat and fry until brown then mix in the tins of tomatoes, peppers, treacle, a crumbled up beef stock cube, a dash of vinegar and a good sprinkling of sugar.
3. Once these ingredients are combined, add all the other spices and actual chilli. Mix, add the herbs and then leave for about 15 minutes so it starts getting bubbly and fragrant.
4. Finally rinse and add the kidney beans and leave it for 45 minutes. Stir regularly (learn from me, people) and once it is thick and lovely, dig in! Best eaten with mounds of rice and huge chunks of garlic bread.