Chilli Anyone?

Chilli Con carne in its various forms has become a staple in our home. 
It is now one the kids can make on their own and a recipe that I keep coming back to, not because it is my favourite but the other 6 mouths seem to love it.
It is a mince beef based dish so I know you are already thinking simplicity. Yes. And you can load it up with vegetables and other goodies. Yes. And it cooks quickly. Yes.  Jamie has a good basic recipe which you can follow if you need directions. The base is always minced beef, garlic and onions, olive oil, chilli and/or tabasco, tomatoes, tomato paste, red kidney beans, sugar, salt and pepper maybe some spice – curry/cumin.
The beauty of this dish is if you make a large quantity you can invite all our friends and have some Mexican fun with loads of guacamole, corn chips, sour cream and salad. If it is week night you can serve it with bread and salad or rice (a family favourite!). It works well in a tortilla and is thus, subtly transformed into burritos. You can use it with pasta and it makes great filling for pies.
So make a batch and go Mexican tonight, like we will be. Freeze the rest and make spicy beef pot pies on the weekend.

good old chilli con carne

main courses | serves 6
What a classic this dish is. Most of my mates love the chickpeas, but butter beans or even cubed potatoes will work well in their place. Feel free to pep up this dish with more chilli depending on your taste. This will make enough for six portions, so simply freeze the extra if you’re only cooking for four – it’s so damn good the next day, even on a jacket potato!


• 2 medium onions
• 2 cloves of garlic
• 2 medium carrots
• 2 sticks of celery
• 2 red peppers
• olive oil
• 1 heaped teaspoon chilli powder
• 1 heaped teaspoon
• ground cumin
• 1 heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas
• 1 x 400g tin of red kidney beans
• 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
• 500g good-quality minced beef
• 1 small bunch of fresh coriander
• 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
• 400g basmati rice
• 1 x 500g tub of natural yoghurt
• 1 x 230g tub of guacamole
• 1 lime

To make your chilli
• Peel and finely chop the onions, garlic, carrots and celery – don’t worry about the technique, just chop away until fine 
• Halve the red peppers, remove the stalks and seeds and roughly chop 
• Place your largest casserole-type pan on a medium high heat 
• Add 2 lugs of olive oil and all your chopped vegetables 
• Add the chilli powder, cumin and cinnamon with a good pinch of salt and pepper 
• Stir every 30 seconds for around 7 minutes until softened and lightly coloured 
• Add the drained chickpeas, drained kidney beans and the tinned tomatoes 
• Add the minced beef, breaking any larger chunks up with a wooden spoon 
• Fill one of the empty tomato tins with water and pour this into the pan 
• Pick the coriander leaves and place them in the fridge 
• Finely chop the washed stalks and stir in 
• Add the balsamic vinegar and season with a good pinch of salt and pepper 
• Bring to the boil and turn the heat down to a simmer with a lid slightly askew for about an hour, stirring every now and again to stop it catching

To serve your chilli
• This is fantastic served with fluffy rice 
• Just divide the rice and chilli into big bowls or serve in the middle of the table and let everyone help themselves 
• If you don’t fancy rice it’s equally good with a nice hunk of fresh crusty bread, over a jacket potato or with couscous 
• Put a small bowl of natural yoghurt, some guacamole and a few wedges of lime on the table, and sprinkle the chilli with the coriander leaves 
• I love to add a nice green salad to round it off

Like a Bat out of Hell…

My “can do” list of fabulous food would not be complete without my meatball recipe which I have perfected over several years. It was originally inspired by Jamie Oliver’s Meatball recipe from his original book The Naked Chef. But after years of tweaking and developing on the job I have made several additions (see below). This dish can take you from lunch to dinner or a late late supper. And according to the boys in our house they are great as leftovers in a sub.

Jamie Oliver’s Meatballs  
 Jamie Oliver (The Naked Chef, 1999. pg. 133)


900g mince meat (I use up to 2kg if I am cooking for a crowd)
2 slices of bread ( leftover rice or cous cous also works well)
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, pounded    I
1/2 small dried red chilli                    
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 egg yolk (or whole egg – I use 2 if using 2kg meat)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil ( I don’t use this!)
1 tomato sauce recipe 
 (see Jamie Oliver’s Basic Tomato Sauce or use quality shop bought passata)
2 handfuls fresh basil, torn
60g mozzarella cheese
60g parmesan cheese
1 onion, finely grated
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
1 tablespoon olive oil 

I find the saviour of my version is that I load it up with grated veggies – carrot, zucchini, mushrooms, capsicum. This way the kids are getting added value for every mouthful!


Use a food processor to turn the slices of bread into bread crumbs. Process veggies as well.
Add the breadcrumbs to the dried oregano, cumin, chilli, rosemary and egg yolk to the minced meat, and season with two level teaspoons salt, and a good twist of black pepper. And a good dash of sweet chilli sauce.

At this stage add your optional ingredients. Mix well and, with wet hands, roll and pat into meatballs the size and shape you want. 
Now this is the bit you are going to want to read. I don’t cook the meatballs first or brown them. I know the die hard chefs out there will be groaning at my lack of technique but honestly, you do not need this step. I grease a large ceramic casserole dish and arrange the meatballs evenly. I then use a quality shop bought tomato passatta to pour over the meatballs. Top with grated cheeses and cook in the oven at 200 c for 45 mins until golden brown. Garnish with fresh herbs and serve with spaghetti.

If you are following Jamie’s Recipe it continues below.
(Preheat a thick-bottomed casserole pan to a very hot temperature, add 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil, swirl around the bottom of the pan and add the meatballs. Fry them until they are brown all over, being careful not to break them up.Turn the heat down, and cover with the tomato, load of ripped up fresh basil, and a little broken up mozzarella and grated parmesan. Cook in the oven at 200c for about 15-20 minutes, until the cheese is golden.)