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Historically, ‘Chilli Con Carne’ is a dish that I’ve never enjoyed. I like a bit of mince as much as the next person, plus I’m partial to a fair amount of spice, but I have a severe aversion to certain types of bean (no idea why). Kidney beans being one of the main culprits. When I was a wee lass, my mum would get very cross with me as I sat and picked out what seemed like hundreds of kidney beans from my bowl of chilli and placed them on my side plate! So much so, eventually she gave in and I was given my own separate plate of plain mince and onions. Sadly, even over the years, it appears my palette hasn’t matured enough to appreciate them and their grainy texture *shudder*.

With this in mind, Dan decided to devise a new chilli recipe…partly as it’s a meal that he’s very fond of, and party because it’s an economical family option that can be stretched to feed several people. I can vouch for the fact that he has perfected it over time, as I cooked it yesterday and it was clean plates all round. He first made it over five years ago when I was expecting our daughter (and at my fussiest). The kidney beans have been replaced with haricot beans (much to my delight – I actually quite like these ones, must be the smaller size) and they work just as well as a replacement.

To make the chilli you will need (serves four):
– 400g of lean beef mince
– One onion (finely chopped)
– One quantity of Cajun Mix (see below)
– One tin of chopped tomatoes
– One tablespoon of tomato ketchup
– A few dashes of Worcester sauce
– One tin of haricot beans (drained and rinsed)
– One to two tablespoons of finishing butter (see below)

For the Cajun Mix:
– One onion (finely chopped)
– Three cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
– One tablespoon of cumin
– Two teaspoons of dried thyme
– Two teaspoons of paprika
– One teaspoon of dried oregano
– One teaspoon of black pepper
– Half a teaspoon of salt
– A pinch of cinnamon

For the finishing butter:
– Two tablespoons of olive oil
– One and a half teaspoons of cumin
– One teaspoon of chilli powder
– One and a half teaspoons of smoked paprika
– One teaspoon of tomato ketchup
– Half a teaspoon of Worcester sauce
– Half a teaspoon of Marmite (can be omitted)
– 125g of butter (softened to room temperature)

Method:
– Combine the Cajun mix ingredients in a food processor to make a paste. Put to one side.
– To make the finishing butter, heat the oil in a pan and lightly fry the cumin and chilli for two minutes. Pour into a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix together and when cooled, refrigerate until needed.
– To prepare the mince, heat a good lug of olive oil in a pan, add the onion and fry for around five minutes until soft.
– Add the mince and fry until browned.
– Add the Cajun mix and fry for two minutes.
– Next pour in the tomatoes, then fill the tin half way with water and add to the pan. Bring to the boil.
– Add the ketchup and Worcester sauce, then season to taste.
– Transfer to a slow cooker and cook on high for two hours. Add the haricot beans and cook for a further hour.
– Stir in the finishing butter and serve immediately.

We served ours with some plain basmati rice. It’s a warming and substantial plate with a kick (which you can adjust to your own taste depending on how much chilli powder you can handle). I personally like it with a dollop of sour cream on top, but with or without it, I’m sure you’ll still want to make this one time and time again.

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