For a while, Happy Days with the Naked Chef was my favourite of Jamie's early books; as soon as I got it (my brother actually bought it for me, when it came out, from the book people), I bonded with it. The baked onions with cheese and cream are divine, as are the roasted winter vegetables and the parsnip and pancetta tagliatelle. This is the book where Jamie introduces his chicken-in-a-bag (roasted in the oven) and unveils more dried pasta dishes than in the previous books. The chilli, though, is an ultimate chilli recipe, for me, anyway. For a while we ate it almost every week; it is a useful dish to make ahead and serves as a tasty, easy, weeknight dinner if you do cook it in advance. It's also versatile - you can team it with rice or with bread and salad, as Jamie suggests, or with flour tortillas, guacamole and sour cream. Oh, and it has tinned kidney beans in it, so you don't have to remember to soak the beans. Bonus. This chilli is one of my failsafe recipes of all time; I don't need the recipe now, I make it on autopilot. The other day we both craved it so I made it again - for the first time in months and months. It won't be months before I make it again.
Everyone knows how to make chilli. This one isn't authentic, one presumes, but I've never been all that bothered about authentic, particularly for a dish of uncertain origins like this one. Jamie's version involves:
- blitzing onion and garlic in a food processor and gently frying until soft
- adding minced beef, powdered cumin and chilli powder, a chopped fresh red chilli (deseeded), 2 tins chopped tomatoes, a wineglass of water, a cinnamon stick, and 200g sundried tomatoes in oil, blitzed with some of their oil to make a paste, and simmering with greaseproof paper and a lid on the pan for 1 hour,
then adding 2 drained tins kidney beans and simmering for a further 30 minutes.
I like the addition of the sundried tomatoes - when I've been too lazy to use my Magimix, I've chopped the onion and garlic and then used sundried tomato paste, but it honestly isn't the same, not really. This chilli isn't super-hot; it isn't exceptionally different; it's just really nice. Proof of which lies in my having cooked it over and over again for the last five years.
Chilli, wrapped in tortillas, guacamole (Simon's speciality) on top and sour cream alongside.
This was our second Mexican meal recently. The first was chicken fajitas, with peppers and onions and garlic, guacamole, sour cream, grated Cheddar. OK so again inauthentic, but again I plead guilty (I do eat proper Mexican food, too).
In other news, in case anyone is interested, term ends tomorrow. Happy days indeed. Sadly contrary to popular belief, this does not mean I'm officially on holiday as of tomorrow evening, but it does mean that the pace can drop and the students go away. I might even be able to plan some Easter baking!