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A basic chilli recipe [Oct. 16th, 2013|09:25 pm]
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[cleodhna]
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Hello! First time posting here. This is for reseda_3067 but I hope more of you will find it useful! Or, at least, not horrible...

As written, this recipe is vegan friendly! Non-vegans can add non-vegan elements as you like.

This recipe makes A LOT. About twelve quite generous adult servings. Go ahead and reduce the quantity if you like-- I find it difficult to make a small amount of chilli, and kind of pointless, as it's a satisfying couple of hours' worth of cooking, so with that amount of input you are due more than one good dinner. It freezes extremely well. Freezing might even make it better. This is just a base recipe. You can add anything else to it that you like, but it's pretty tasty on its own. Please don't be put out by the apparent length of the recipe-- this is lazy cooking at its laziest, and I am rubbish at keeping things concise.

I must warn you: I don't really measure anything. Guidelines only! You will have to work to your own taste. If you have any questions, please post, and I'll try to answer.

You will need:

A really big pot. A good-sized stock pot is what I use.

Beans: the heart and soul of your chilli. I usually use a mixture of kidneys, pintos, black turtles, and black-eyed peas, about three small handfuls each, cooked up from dry. You can use tinned beans too: I would recommend two tins of kidneys, one of pintos, one of turtles, one of black eyed peas. There is nothing wrong with tinned beans. I just like mine with a little more bite to them, and dry beans are so cheap and so much lighter to carry if you're not in a wheeled and powered conveyance.

Four tins of tomatoes. You can use fresh ones if you are absolutely heroic, or have a garden full of them. Any kind.

Two big nice onions, three if they're smaller. I usually use brown ones, but sometimes red, or red, brown and shallot. Whatever-- the point is yummy onion.

Three bell peppers, two if they're huge. I like to use green and yellow, because the colour contrast against the tomatoes is pleasing, but use whatever you like.

One entire celery, leaves included. They are the best part.

Four or five fresh chilli peppers, or to taste. You can use dry flakes or powder, but I really like the sweetness that a fresh chilli brings. If you want it less hot, take out the seeds. If you want it more hot, add more. If you leave it on the milder side, you can always spice it up later.

Fresh garlic. As much as you like. You could use powdered, if that's what you have.

Ground cumin. A lot. Like, really a lot. Two tablespoons, minimum.*

Parsley-- fresh or dried.

Salt and pepper-- to taste, and you will need to taste, depending on your ingredients. Tinned beans and tomatoes will often come already salted. I tend to under-salt things. You can always add it later, but you can't take it out.

A pinch of sugar, any kind. It brings out the flavour of the onions and tomatoes.

You can use concentrated tomato paste if you like (if so omit or reduce the sugar) but I find it isn't necessary.

Olive oil, or any good vegetable oil.

Fresh coriander leaf (cilantro)-- to serve. Keep it separate unless you know that absolutely everyone who is going to be eating this is a coriander fan! See below for the Coriander Controversy.


Method:

Have your cooked or de-tinned and drained beans ready and cool enough to handle.

Chop up your onions, peppers, and celery. Warm enough olive oil over a medium heat in your Really Big Pot to coat them all comfortably, tip them all in together, toss them well in the oil and let them sweat until they are soft, but not mushy-- they should still have some crunch. They're going to cook more after this, so a fair bit of crunch is OK. Season with salt, pepper, pinch of sugar, and a generous amount of cumin-- you should have the glorious cumin scent all over your house. If it starts to stick to the bottom of the pot, add some water. Don't be tempted to add more oil-- cold oil added in can make the veggies too oily. Ew. If you really want more, please warm it first.

Tip in your tomatoes. If you're using fresh, you could peel them before chopping up small, but I don't mind little bits of peel. If you're using tinned ones and they aren't already chopped, chop them or just shred them to bits with your hands. Use all the juice, too. Turn the heat up until everything's hot through, then return it to a gentle simmer. If you're using dry parsley, add it now.

Now for your beans! If you have a little kid to hand, this is the time to get them involved, because this is the fun part. Tip in 1/2 to 2/3 of your beans, depending on how many whole beans you want. Take the rest and mash those suckers good in your bare hands! Sure, you could use a food processor or a potato masher, but where's the fun in that? Get them into a good lumpy paste, then grab it in lumps and pop it in, scraping the beany mess from your hands as you go. Lick your fingers. The squished beans will thicken your chilli, giving it a bit more oomph.

If you're using fresh chopped parsley, add it now, along with the garlic, chopped fine or crushed. You don't want these to be too thoroughly cooked-- the flavours should stay nice and fresh. Stir it well. Let it all burble at a pleasant simmer for about half an hour or until the tomato juice has cooked down and you're happy with the texture, stirring occasionally so it doesn't stick to the bottom. Taste and adjust the seasoning as you like. If you think you might want more cumin, go ahead and add it, but you'll need to let it sit a little longer to really get those flavours in there.

Now the controversial bit:

CORIANDER

Some people-- myself included-- love this herb. Zingy, fresh, cooling, it is a natural accompaniment to all things hot or citrusy… but some people, owing to a slight genetic difference, cannot detect whatever it is about coriander that makes it so lovely to the rest of us. To them it tastes like a particularly strong and malodorous soap that poisons everything with its disgustingness. If in doubt, leave it out-- anyway, these people are mutants; they probably have superpowers so you really don't want to get on their bad side. Anyway, I think coriander is best used as a fresh topping.

That's it! Good right away, or you can cool it and leave the flavours to meld anywhere from several hours to overnight. If you're going to freeze it, it is best to let it cool thoroughly. Serve it with rice and your choice of anything else-- salsa, cheese, sour cream, creme fraiche, avocado, yogurt, a squeeze of lime, whatever you like. Make it go even further with tofu or TVP or seitan. Try it mixed with shredded lettuce, in or out of a wrap, for a light lunch. Make nachos out of it. Most of all make it your own. Let me know if you like it!

* This kind of thing could get rather expensive if you restrict yourself to those tiny little spice jars they sell in the supermarket, but you may find, if you have access to a good Chinese, Mexican or Asian grocery, you can get it in bigger bags for a fraction of the price. If you don't, check whether your supermarket has a section for exotic foods. You might find it there.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: fluffyblanket
2013-10-17 09:28 am (UTC)

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That sounds delicious! I must try it!
[User Picture]From: cleodhna
2013-10-17 12:11 pm (UTC)

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Let me know how you get on! I hope you like it!
[User Picture]From: reseda_3067
2013-10-17 11:43 am (UTC)

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Thanks! This sounds absolutely delicious. I cook a lot of vegetarian foods, though I'm not 100% vegetarian. I just like vegetables. :) I've never tasted fresh Coriander. Just in sauces and such.
I have a lentil and potato stew I might be allowed to post? That is, if I figure out how to post it. :)
PS. How sweet of you to mention me. :):):):)
[User Picture]From: cleodhna
2013-10-17 12:00 pm (UTC)

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Lentils and potatoes, yum! Two of my favourite things! Yes please!
If you don't hate coriander in sauces, you'll probably be fine with it fresh. If you can sneak up on a leaf in the supermarket, pinch off a bit and sniff it-- if it smells delightful, it's for you! You might only be able to get it in big bunches, though. Fear not-- pop it in a ziploc bag in the freezer and break it off in little tufts as you need. No need to chop! It'll just crumble.
I'm not 100% veggie either, but a lot of meat doesn't sit well with me. You can always cook up some mince of some description and have it on the side as a topping for your meatier dinner companions, as much as you and they like. :)
[User Picture]From: reseda_3067
2013-10-17 12:19 pm (UTC)

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Okay. Will post my recipe then. I'm a complete computer moron, so... lol!
No, I actually kind of liked coriander in the sauces I've tried. I always freeze parsley, which I absolutely love in foods. Yum. And the not-having-to-chop-when-frozen, is always a bonus. :)
[User Picture]From: cleodhna
2013-10-17 12:25 pm (UTC)

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I too am a big fan of parsley! Did you know it has tons of vitamin C? We should all eat more parsley. Parsley rocks!
[User Picture]From: reseda_3067
2013-10-17 12:52 pm (UTC)

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Parsley eaters unite! Hahaha. And don't forget about all the good iron it contains too. :)
[User Picture]From: cleodhna
2013-10-17 01:08 pm (UTC)

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Oh yes. Excellent herb! I don't want to rip Nigel Slater off, so if you can get access to his book 'Appetite', he has a recipe for a 'gutsy, piquant' sauce that in my experience is good for absolutely everything. It's mostly parsley and it is delicious. It is an essential thing in our house now. Leave the anchovies out for veggies. I love Nigel Slater-- lots of meat recipes, true, but he tells you *why* he does things, not just how, so you can translate his recipes. And he gives adaptations. A real person's real cook.

Edited at 2013-10-17 01:09 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]From: reseda_3067
2013-10-17 01:16 pm (UTC)

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Nigel Slater? Oh, I used to watch his cooking shows on TV. He hasn't been on for a while now, though, but I always thought he made "regular" food, if you know what I mean? Nothing too fancy or hard to make. Just great plain food.
I'll have to look up his book. That sauce sounds interesting. Well, except for the anchovies. HATE anchovies. Hahaha.
[User Picture]From: cleodhna
2013-10-17 01:36 pm (UTC)

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Absolutely. He's all about good food that normal people can prepare in normal kitchens. I've learned more from reading his books than from anywhere else!

Just leave the anchovies out! I prefer them out, too. I only like anchovies on a pizza, and that rarely!
[User Picture]From: reseda_3067
2013-10-17 01:45 pm (UTC)

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Nice! :)
Oh, no! No anchovies on pizza! Hahaha. I got that once when I was visiting Scotland, as a "we're-sorry-we-forgot-to-make-the-food-you-ordered" thing. I just couldn't eat it.
Ps. Did you see that I put up my Lentil and potato stew? Hope it is to your taste. :)
[User Picture]From: cleodhna
2013-10-17 08:17 pm (UTC)

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Oh, that's not the worst thing you could get on a pizza in Scotland, not by a long shot. Trust me. I live in Scotland. ;)
[User Picture]From: reseda_3067
2013-10-17 08:27 pm (UTC)

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Oh, now you scare me! Hahaha. But I have to say, I love Scotland. I worked there for a very short while years ago. Near Loch Ness. I really like Glasgow. :)
[User Picture]From: cleodhna
2013-10-17 08:37 pm (UTC)

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I've never been to Sweden but I'd love to go! I bet I'd feel like a kid there-- you're all so tall, and I'm so... not. Bet I'd love it!
[User Picture]From: reseda_3067
2013-10-18 07:21 am (UTC)

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Tall? Hahaha. I'm just above 5' (not quite 156 centimeters). We're not very tall in my family, except with a few exceptions. But my nieces and nephews are tall, though. :)

Yeah, Sweden's pretty alright. Expensive, though. And the weather today is horrible. The first snow fell this morning and it's freezing and windy. I just came home and I was chilled to the bone. Brr...
[User Picture]From: cleodhna
2013-10-21 07:58 pm (UTC)

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Well, you'd fit right in in Scotland! Our weather's not up to much, either, unless you like being wet and cold.

Yes, I've heard it's expensive, but you have such progressive social policies. I do think it's true that the greatness of a nation can be measured by how well it treats the least of its people. By that measure, Sweden's pretty great.
[User Picture]From: reseda_3067
2013-10-22 10:50 am (UTC)

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Yeah, I remember Scotland being quite damp and rainy, but I still loved it!

I guess Sweden is a pretty good country to live in, but since there was a change in leadership 7 years ago, things have gotten harsher for the less fortunate people. It's gotten hard to get finacial help if you should need it. But our health care is really good- and pretty cheap.