25/01/2013

Chipotle Chilli

Chipotle ChilliFirst, I will say that there is nothing authentic about this ...

In fact, considering the word "authentic" ... can it ever be applied to cuisine? One may have an authentic painting or an authentic first edition book, but cooking?

As with all traditional recipes, nobody really knows where they started, what they looked like when they were first put together or just how much they have evolved or changed since then ... that evolution is actually the process that creates a refined and defined dish which becomes celebrated and so: authentic.

It is because the idea has travelled around the world, been re-interpreted, tried and tested by people outside of the original ethnic group that a dish becomes so great.

So, here's to the Chilli, Chili, Chilli Con Carne, or whatever it is you call it ...

I cook us Chilli every week for our Friday night "kick back and relax" meal after a hard week of work, recognising that we did our thing and we did it well ... and now it's time to really enjoy the weekend break.

Since going paleo, I've left out the beans - granted, that is not "authentic" but then I was cooking a Chilli Con Carne, not a Chili. I've substituted them with all manner of good things, picking a seasonal veggie and dropping it in, cubed - this keeps my Chilli fresh, interesting and always different.

Tonight, I was after purity ... a really refined version.

I decided to go with a smoky flavour and so, the Chipotle is the main chilli in here, boosted with chocolate and smoked sea salt.

I also like my Chilli hot, so in goes a dried (and smoked?) Scotch Bonnet! Whoa! This was hot!

I also looked further into oregano. Mexican oregano is an entirely different herb/plant to European oregano, but, as far as I can tell, the Mexicans called their plant "oregano" because it had a similar flavour to European oregano. In fact, I understand that it is more like marjoram, and I did find an Oaxacan Chef who uses marjoram in preference to Mexican oregano.

The flavour of Mexican oregano is further, more earthy, quite intoxicating in scent, carried by an almost mint-like compound, even slightly citrussy. My herb blend was dried marjoram, fresh mint and some lemon peel.

Let's take a run through the ingredients, then look at the method ...

Minced beef, beef dripping, chopped tomatoes, tomato purée, red onion, onion, garlic, ginger, Chipotle chilli, beef stock, black pepper, smoked sea salt, chocolate, marjoram, mint, lemon peel and jalapeno chillies.

First, brown off the minced beef in a skillet with some beef dripping. No, coconut oil will not do! The ingredients have been very specifically chosen. Beef dripping, it is.

As the mince browns, keep breaking it up and try to grind it further to a really fine texture.

For two people, I find a pound of meat is good. This is about half a kilo, if that's your scale of measurement.

Meanwhile, take half a red onion and half a regular onion, chop roughly and place into a receptacle suitable for blending along with some cloves of garlic, a good teaspoon on fresh ginger and some pre-soaked dried Chipotle and Scotch Bonnet chillies. Blend the lot together and add the chilli water.

For a gentle deviation, if you have dried mushrooms, now would be the time to re-constitute and blend them in with this paste. I may well do this later. I did consider fresh mushrooms, but think the dried would work out better. Another time, maybe ...

Anyway, back to it ...

Pour this paste into the now browned minced beef and cook through.

Add in a good squirt of tomato purée, some black pepper and beef stock. Stir together.

Pour in a carton of chopped tomatoes and stir in.

Add the herbs: sprinkle over dried marjoram and a couple of leaves of well chopped fresh mint along with a piece of lemon peel.

Place a couple of squares of high content chocolate in the middle and cook on, gently for a couple of hours, topping up with water as necessary.

Towards the end of cooking, check tastes and adjust accordingly - salt, or more chilli, where necessary.

Serve out with some fresh chilli de-seeded, halved longways and sliced as garnish. Accompany with a chopped salad of red cos, giving an interested red/green base, cucumber, tomato and radish; guacamole and Greek yoghurt alongside.

Grab a bottle of your favourite red to put out the fire and kick back for the evening.

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