Saturday, 26 May 2012

Beanless Chilli

There is a well-known cultural divide across the Atlantic, between the British and the Americans. As a result, there tends to be differences in just about everywhere, from speech (try asking an American and a Briton what suspenders are, for instance), to table etiquette (while Brits tend to cut steak up as they go along, the Americans will cut it all up first), to cuisine.

While people Stateside don't think of jacket potatoes as anything more than a baked potato with butter, perhaps at most sour cream, chives and bacon bits, served as a side to go with steak, over here in the UK people tend to have it as a meal on its own, using a wide variety of toppings - tuna mayonnaise, coronation chicken, and chilli con carne, just to name a few. And while the British don't think of chilli con carne as much more than just a bolognese sauce with chilli and kidney beans, in the States, there's a mind-boggling variety of chilli types, debates over the inclusion of beans that can border on the religious, and closely guarded spice mix recipes.

Amongst the more unusual things I have encountered while reading up on American chilli include the use of beer and coffee, and even the norm in Cincinnati, Ohio of serving chilli with spaghetti and grated cheddar. With about one serving to go in my pack of Basics minced beef, and plenty of odds and ends from the Basics range in my kitchen, I decided to try incorporating some of my discoveries in a beanless chilli.

Fry some Sainsbury's Basics mince together with some Basics garlic. Season with Basics black pepper and herb mix, and a dash of Basics vinegar.

Start adding in Basics beer (lager or bitter is fine), in quantities of about a mouth at a time. At some point stir in some Basics instant coffee as well.

Add Sainsbury's Basics chopped tomatoes and leave to simmer. Meanwhile, soak some Basics spaghetti so as to remove it of its starch. Add to the pan and simmer everything together until the spaghetti is done. Sprinkle with grated Basics cheddar (or Basics grated hard cheese, if you don't have cheddar), spike with your chilli of choice, and serve.

This turned out well, generally speaking. It was difficult getting the balance between the beer and coffee right,  but they lend an unusual, if bitter, edge to the final result. Certainly an interesting way to use your bolognese ingredients, and not too difficult to whip up if you already know how to do spag bol.

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