Sorry to have neglected you all for so long – it’s not that I don’t like you, it’s simply because being the father of a small child (10 months old at time of writing) often means that one barely gets a chance to even cook exciting food, let along write about it. And as for eating out…well, it’s rare, let’s just say that. But I’m here now! And hopefully will be here a lot more over the coming months. But I can’t promise anything…
This is a great recipe, regardless of the season, and is adapted from one by Jamie Oliver. It would be epic cooked in a cauldron over a fire (if you have one, do it!) but is equally sensational done in the relative safety of a kitchen at home. What I really like about it is the heat from the fresh chillies that sings through in a much fruitier manner than if powdered heat was used. I use pretty hot peppers – cayenne or habanero – but it is up to you and, if you want a safe version, it is equally delicious without the addition of fresh chilli at all. But where the fun be in that…
- 1 kg stewing steak, cut into 2.5cm chunks
- 250g smoked bacon/pancetta, chopped
- 250 ml hot coffee
- 1-2 large dried chillies – ancho or chipotle
- 1 red onion, finely diced
- 5 cloves of garlic, sliced
- 1 large red, yellow or orange pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
- Olive oil
- 1 heaped tsp ground cumin
- 1 heaped tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 3–4 fresh chillies
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 x 400 g tins of plum tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons molasses or muscovado sugar (or any brown sugar)
- 1 x 400 g tin of your choice of beans – kidney/pinto etc.
- 50g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
- Sour cream to serve
- First of all, make the coffee and soak the dried chillies in it for a few minutes to let them rehydrate. Peel and slice/chop up the onions, peppers, and garlic if you haven’t already – some people (like me) prep everything before starting to actually cook but hey, it’s your kitchen…
- Heat about a tablespoon of oil in your largest casserole pan on a medium heat and add your chopped bacon/pancetta. Stir it about and let it sizzle and sing until is coloured and crispy. Once the bacon is cooked, add the cumin, paprika, oregano, bay and onions and reduce the heat slightly. Fry for 10 minutes, until the onions have softened and your kitchen is filled with a wonderful aroma of spices and bacon. Mmmmm….
- Deseed (if you like) and chop up half the fresh chillies and then slice up the rehydrated ones and add them to the onion mixture along with the chopped fresh chilli, the cinnamon stick, sliced garlic, and season with salt and pepper.
- Add the coffee, sugar, and tomatoes, breaking them up with the back of a spoon. Stir and then add the chocolate, stirring until it has oozed and melted in. If you taste the stew now it will predominantly taste like chocolate – fret not, it will all mix and mingle while it cooks.
- Add the pieces of stewing steak, cover with a lid and simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. Depending on what meat you have used the cooking time will vary – check after a couple of hours and if your meat is falling apart it is done. If not, keep going! Alternatively you could put it into a low oven for about the same amount of time.
- When it’s all soft and unctuous (at least 2 hours later) use 2 forks or a potato masher to break the meat up and pull it apart.
- Once you’ve done this, add the chopped peppers, then drain and add the beans and leave to simmer with the lid off for around 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Have a taste and season well – if you want more heat then add the rest of the sliced fresh chilli.
- Dollop a big spoonful of soured cream on to your chilli of joy and serve with rice, flatbreads or whatever carby delight you fancy. And it is perfectly acceptable to eat this with chips. Or over a jacket potato. Or half rice, half chips. I’m not judging you.