Monday, 21 October 2013

Using up to make some more

Welcome to my new followers John Wooldridge and Angie Cartmel via Bloglovin - glad to have you aboard the old Norfolk Express - hang on tightly!

I love this time of year when some days are warm and some cold. The warm ones remind you of the summer just passed and the cold ones, the winter days to come. Every warm day saves fuel even the wet ones we are currently experiencing!

We have been eating up the few remaining meals in our freezer from last year and just about managed to empty one drawer. The rest of them are filled with fruit, vegetables and a few baking things. Now I can begin again to devise meals that can be eaten one day and several portions frozen for others.

Today is one of those days and I have decided to make chilli con carne. Regardless of what recipes state, you can use just vegetables, all kinds of meat and anything in-between such as fish or paneer.  A trip to our local butchers obtained some sausages for the freezer plus 2 lbs of minced beef. 1lb was put away for another day into the freezer, the other pound had 150g removed to try Elaine's rissoles recipe here the rest went into the meal.

We like a little meat and lots of vegetables and will often make this with far less meat than the 350g used today. Anyway, a selection of vegetables were peeled and diced. Today they included 1/2 lb tomatillo's, 1 courgette and 3 medium carrots. I grow tomatillo's, if you don't have any add some fresh tomatoes plus a tablespoon of lemon juice for that acidic kick!

Once they were prepared, 1 teaspoon of whole cumin seed and 1/2 teaspoon of caraway were dry fried in the pan. Then 2 tablespoons of oil were added, along with two medium sliced onions. When the onions were softened, the mince and one tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce went in. I kept stirring until all released juices had vanished. Another tablespoon of oil can be added to lightly brown the mince.

All the prepared vegetables were added, plus 1 teaspoon chilli flakes, 2 tins of chopped tomatoes, a 2 inch squeeze of garlic paste and 3 stock cubes. Enough water was added to bring it near the top of the vegetables. The pan was brought to the boil, lid added and turned down to a long, slow simmer.
When nearly ready, two tablespoons of tomato paste and 1 sieved level tablespoon of cocoa powder (not drinking chocolate) were then stirred in. Real dark chocolate can be added instead but the powder works well once stirred in. I got this tip from a Mexican chap we were once acquainted with who told us they normally used chocolate chilli stock cubes in this dish.

Three things can now happen to thicken and finish it. You could thicken it with some cornflour and water,  or take around 1/4 of the chilli out and use a stick blender in it to puree and add back in, or you could add (I did this) two tablespoons of instant potato powder.  Once done, it is put back into the main pan then one tin of chickpeas and one of kidney beans are added to cook through.

Check for seasoning (I needed to add lots of pepper) and serve with rice or whatever you fancy. As I was serving up on each plate (two), a similar amount was decanted into containers for freezing. The plateful we were having for tea also had a little grated cheese on top!
 In the end, we managed to get 4  cartons. That was 5 meals for 2 people. Of course it depends on how much you serve up but we find 1 1/2 ladles enough for each of us.
Not sure of the total cost but it is quite low. I know this 350g of minced steak cost us £2.67 and the 150g for another night was 59p. All in all, for 5 chilli con carne meals for 2 adults, quite a good price.


  1. I always put chocolate in my chilli but never caraway seeds, I love them and add to bread dough and cake mixes and to some pork dishes. I will try them in my next batch of chilli

    1. I normally use just cumin seeds but tried caraway this time and it seemed to work okay.

  2. This looks fabulous!

    1. Thanks Shara, have got in touch, hopefully it all worked okay.


I love hearing from you, will read all your comments and try and answer any questions you leave. Please leave comments in English. Don't forget to come back and read my reply! All comments are moderated so if you try to link it to a commercial web site, it will not be published.