Chilli? Try a drop of coffee and chocolate!

There was a time when chilli con carne would have been looked at askance here in the North East of Scotland. “Fit’s ‘at mince deein’ wi ‘at beans in it?” You can just about hear it!

But, now, chilli con carne is almost a staple food on virtually every bar menu, not just in Aberdeen, but throughout the land.

Some is good. Some is not so good. And some is downright awful.

My secrets? Firstly, I often use stewing steak rather than mince (or ground beef as it would be known in Tex Mex country). Needless to say I would advise giving your supermarket a body swerve and finding a real family butcher, one with a good reputation for quality (you’ll wonder why you ever bought meat in a supermarket!).

Second secret ingredient. Unsweetened chocolate. Or, if you don’t have, you can use cocoa powder (not drinking chocolate, the real unsweetened cocoa).

Third secret ingredient. Coffee. Just a small amount of strong, dark coffee (the left overs from your cafetiere after you have had your morning or afternoon brew-up would be ideal.

OK, so the method.

Brown the onions, then the beef in a little olive oil.
Add one or two bell peppers chopped.
Add two or three jalpenos, chopped. (De-seeded if you want less heat.)
Add one or two tins of tomatoes.
One or two tins of kidney beans. (I notice Jamie Oliver also adds chickpeas... note to self... must try that.)
Add a heaped tablespoon, or so, of cocoa (or some unsweetened chocolate if you are luck to have some)
Add a generous amount of cumin.
Add a generous amount of mild paprika.
Add a little chilli powder to taste.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Coffee powder to taste.
Small glug of lime juice (or orange if you don’t have).
Small glug of vinegar.

Cook as long and slow as possible. Ideally make it the day before you want to eat, chilli is better after sitting in the fridge for a night! (Heat it up though!)

My favourite way to serve is poured over a large buttered baked potato, with alfalfa sprouts.
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