Saturday, 2 October 2010

Chilli Con Carne

 Tonight I'm going for dinner at Green and Red Bar & Cantina, a Mexican restaurant in London.  And let it be said, I adore Mexican restaurants. I love that it is ok, no, expected, that you down Coronas and tequila with your food. I love that a big basket of tortilla chips lands on your table faster than you can say dos tequilas, por favor.  I am enthralled by the fact that you can order pitchers of Margaritas.

I, however, do realise that the Mexican cocina is way more diverse than you are led to believe in most Mexican restaurants outside Mexico.  I am aware that American-style Mexican food aka. tex-mex has distorted the public understanding of Mexican food and that people who haven't actually visited this large country ( Spring Break ´04 in Cancun doesn't count) have a skewed image of the place and culture; Mexicans probably don't celebrate Cinco de Mayo by consuming Corona through a beer bong and eating nachoes while wearing a pink sombrero and blasting King Africa's La Bomba song.

I intend to explore Mexican food a bit over the coming months (please give me a shout if you have any recipes), but for now I'd like to share this recipe for Chilli Con Carne.  How Mexican this version is I am not sure, but it is a favourite in this household.

To feed 4 amigos:
500g of minced beef
1 can of kidney beans
1 can of tomatos
1 deseeded and chopped chilli pepper
1 chopped onion
1 chopped  bell pepper
cayenne pepper
olive oil
salt & pepper

1. Heat a bit of oil in a pot, then add the onion.  Fry till  the onion pieces are light brown.  Add the minced beef and the chilli - stir it well to get out all lumps in the beef.

2. Once the beef is brown, add half a teaspoonful of cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Stir well.

3. Add the bell pepper and fry for a few minutes.

4. Drain the kidney beans and add them together with canned tomatos.  Add 0.3L of water.  Bring it to a boil before turning down the heat and letting it simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Keep it simple and serve with rice or turn dinner into a fiesta by serving the Chilli Con Carne with all the trimmngs: salad, diced tomatos, taco shells, soured cream, cheddar cheese, salsa and guacamole.

Salsa and guacamole are super easy to make and don't even compare with the miserably coloured stuff they sell in supermarkets.

Guacamole for 4 people
2 ripe avocados
1 chopped red onion
1 chopped tomato
soured cream
salt & pepper

1. Peel the avocados and mash them using a fork or a blender.  Add the chopped onion and tomato.  Squeeze the juice of a lime or half a lemon into the bowl.  Taste with salt and pepper.  You can add 2-3 tablespoonfuls of soured cream to make the guacamole more creamy.

Salsa for 4 people
6 chopped tomatos
1 chopped red onion
1 deseeded and finely chopped chilli pepper
a handful of roughly chopped coriander
salt & pepper

1. Mix all these ingredients together and add salt and pepper to your liking.


The last two photos were taken by my friend Toni - I'm sure he won't mind!

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