This is not the prettiest looking dish around, but the fact that Gordon Ramsay, Nigella and Jamie O have all got their own versions in their latest books speaks for itself. Simple comfort food is always popular and often the tastiest. My twist on the original version is to use ostrich mince. Ostrich is a killer source of protein and really low in calories and fat. It's one of the leanest meats around.
I made some corn-bread to serve with it and substituted fat-free yogurt for buttermilk to make it healthier. I figured they had similar textures so it wouldn't make that much difference. Luckily I was right and the corn-bread came out nicely. Perfect for mopping up the sauce, getting your hands dirty and not feeling guilty. Like I said, this is not a sophisticated vibe we're going for.
Okay, stuff you'll need to serve 4 people:
For the chilli con carne:
- 500g ostrich mince
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- Celery, chopped (the same amount as the onion and carrot)
- 2 garlic cloves peeled and crushed
- Chilli powder (the heat depends on how brave you are)
- A can of chopped tomatoes
- A handful of cherry tomatoes
- Fresh parsley
- Dried mixed herbs
- Tomato paste
- A can of red kidney beans
What to do:
1. In the biggest pot you have add a glug of olive oil and start cooking your onion, carrot and celery over a medium heat. Cook until the vegetables are softened, but not changing colour.
2. Add your garlic, chilli powder, paprika and cumin. Just start with a teaspoon of the spices and back yourself to add more later if you want to. Cook the spices for about 5 minutes, stirring often so that it doesn't burn. Add a few teaspoons of tap water if you need to.
3. Add your mince and brown it, breaking it up and stirring it all in. The mince must change colour and there should be a sizzling noise so you might want to turn the heat up. What you don't want is to stew the meat.
4. Make the sauce. Throw in the tinned tomatoes, a handful of cherry tomatoes, the tomato paste, the dried spices and season well with salt and pepper. Don't be shy here, it will need a lot of seasoning. Just be sensible, keep tasting the sauce and add as you go. Add some chilli if you want to. Add a glass of tap water and stir well.
5. Bring the mixture to the boil, stirring constantly. Once the sauce is bubbling and you are happy with the seasoning, turn the heat down and put the lid on the pot. Check the sauce every now and again to stop it sticking at the bottom of the pot or from drying out. If it looks dry, add some water - don't worry about it, the sauce will thicken up with time.
6. Chill - other than stirring the sauce don't do a thing. The longer you leave this sauce for the better it will taste.
7. When you are ready to serve it, add some chopped parsley and the tin of beans. Serve it up with some cornbread.
The cornbread, stuff you'll need:
- 280g polenta
- 85g plain flour
- 2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda
- 1 egg
- 150 ml milk
- 450 ml fat-free yoghurt
- Dried herbs
What to do:
1. Heat oven to 190 Degrees Celsius and butter a 25cm x 16cm baking tin.
2. Mix polenta, bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl and season.
3. Mix the milk, yoghurt and egg together and pour into the polenta mixture. Stir gently to combine. Be delicate here, mixing it too aggresively will mean your bread will be tough.
4. Pour the mixture into the baking tin and bake for 35 - 40 minutes. When it's ready, cut it up and serve with the chilli sauce.
If there's any left over, freeze it. You'll thank me in a few weeks when winter really kicks in.