My First Chili Con Carne

After two rounds into our Come Dine With Me challenge, with Phil and Omar, I have decided to start brushing up on my cooking skills in order to prepare for our round, which will be held at some point in the near future.

I decided to try Chili Con Carne as I wanted a light meal and something that would go with jacket potatoes. I’ve never been massively fussed about Chili Con Carne before but thought I’d give it a go to learn more about it.

I printed out the recipe on the BBC Good Food guide and bought all the ingredients that were recommended – it was easy to buy the right ingrediants at the specified sizes, and our spice collection has now quadrupled in size!

It was interesting to see how many ingredients actually go into a Chili, as I had always naively thought that the dish contains lots of mince, kidney beans, and a few tomatoes with a sprinking of onions.

Instead I carefully prepared a base of sweet red pepper, garlic, onion, paprika, cumin, marjoram and olive oil, as well as a green chili and mushrooms to give it my own twist, and tasting and adding more seasoning as required.

I also took care to give the flavours a lot of time to mingle as I do have a habit of preparing food too quickly. In fact I was having so much fun preparing the meal that it eventually took twice as long as I was expecting.

The mince, tomatoes, stock and kidney beans were eventually added and I let the dish boil, simmer and rest as instructed, and after 90 minutes was ready to serve up a very tasty looking Chili over a couple of well-baked potatoes.

The meal came out even better than I expected. I had anticipated a reasonable first attempt with a few mistakes to learn from, but the dish looked rich, had a great blend of flavours, and a subtle kick without being too strong.

The only real mistakes I made were to concentrate on the Chili too much and forget to turn the potatoes over at half time, and I prepared slightly too much Chili although I deliberately added too much mince in order to ensure I could serve decent portions.

With hindsight I’d like to put more ingregiants into the base, perhaps more onions and chilis. I felt that the recipe was tomato-heavy and so would like to try other ingrediants rather than just adding chopped tomatos and purée at the end.

I learned a lot about taking time, using a mix of spices and herbs, and letting the dish stand. The Chili itself was quite straightfoward to prepare and the key was adding the right amounts of various ingredients and giving it time to stand.