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How to make Chilli con carne with cornbread topping

29 November 2019


A FEW years ago, I cooked the inaugural meal at our church homeless shelter. Once everyone had been served the Chilli con carne with cornbread topping, I joined the table. “How’s your meal?” I asked my neighbour. “It’s OK,” he said. “But, really, you should serve fillet steak.”

2 large onions, sliced
2 peppers (green and red)
1 bird’s eye chilli, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1kg (2 lb) minced beef
1 teaspoon each (all ground): mixed spice, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, chilli powder
5 cardamom pods
2 beef stock cubes
1 × 200g tube tomato purée
1 tablespoon each of sugar and vinegar
2 × 400g tins chopped tomatoes
1 × 500g carton passata
2 × 400g tins kidney beans
1½ tablespoons cocoa

In a saucepan, fry the onions in some olive oil until pale and golden. Deseed and chop the peppers and add these with the chill and garlic, stirring well. Add the mince and keep turning it until browned. Now stir through the spices. Crush the cardamom pods and tip in, crumbling over the stock cubes and then stirring through the tomato purée with the sugar and vinegar. Add the tomatoes, passata, and rinsed kidney beans. Take the two tomato tins, fill with water and put this in, too. Bring everything to the boil, stirring all the time. Sprinkle the cocoa over, stir again, reduce the heat, part-cover, and simmer for at least two hours.

For the cornbread: 

650g (1 lb 6 oz) cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons plain flour
6 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 eggs
750ml (1½ pt) buttermilk
2 teaspoons honey
4 tablespoons vegetable oil

Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl. In a jug, beat the eggs, add the other wet ingredients, combine, and add to the dry to form a batter. Transfer the chilli to a large roasting tin and then pour the cornbread batter on top. Sprinkle over some grated cheese, then bake in the oven at 200°F/220°C/Gas 7, for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and stand for a few minutes before breaking through the cornbread to reveal steam­ing chilli beneath. Serve with basmati rice, more grated cheese, and sour cream.

Jamaican bananas. For every two bananas, in a frying pan melt a tablespoon of butter with a tablespoon of dark-brown soft sugar. Once bubbling, peel the bananas and throw then whole into the pan, swirl, and get coated with the caramel. Turn them, swirl again, and pour
in one tablespoonful (per two bananas) of dark rum. Flame briefly to flambé.


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