[Recipe 2] CHILLI BEAN and BEEF SOFT TACOS
I’ve just returned from a conference-thingo in Sydney. Although I missed my boys madly, it was such a treat being by myself for two days. I feel like I cleared the old cobwebs; strolling the streets of beautiful Surry Hills, perusing little galleries and bookshops and reading the paper in bed from cover to cover. Had some ace food too – will post photos soon.
Thought I’d dish up a couple of super-simple, super-tasty recipes ‘I prepared earlier’ (love saying that). First up is good old Mixed bean and beef chilli con carne, followed by Chilli bean and beef soft tacos made with the planned-overs (♦ refer to the orange diamonds for quantities). Both are firm family favourites at our place. Enjoy.
250g (1¼ cups) dried red kidney beans, soaked at least 6 hours or overnight
250g (1¼ cups) dried borlotti beans, soaked at least 6 hours or overnight
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 brown onions, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 kilos (4 lb) minced (ground) beef
3 tablespoons cumin
2 tablespoons smoked paprika (pimentón)
4 x 400g (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes
1 cup (250ml) beef stock
¾ cup (210g) tomato paste (tomato concentrate)
1 teaspoon dried chilli powder (or more – see notes below recipe)
1 large red or green capsicum (bell pepper), de-seeded, finely chopped
2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses*
½ cup fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, chopped, plus extra to serve
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Steamed basmati rice, to serve
Sour cream, to serve
Chopped avocado, to serve
Corn chips, to serve (optional)
Drain soaked beans and place into a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cover with water. Bring to the boil. Simmer for 50 minutes, covered, until just tender. Drain again and set aside.
Heat oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Add mince and cook over low heat, stirring often, for about 10 minutes or until brown. Break up the mince with a wooden spoon now and again. Add the cumin and paprika and stir until aromatic, about 1 minute.
Add tomatoes, stock, tomato paste and chilli powder and simmer, covered, over a low heat for 30 minutes. Add cooked beans and capsicum and continue cooking, covered, for about 30 minutes. Stir often. Remove lid and simmer for a further 10–15 minutes, or until thick. Stir in molasses and coriander and season to taste.
♦ Reserve 4 cups (1 kilo/2 lb) Mixed bean and beef chilli con carne for the Chilli bean and beef soft tacos.
Divide the remainder of the Mixed bean and beef chilli con carne into labeled plastic containers (see storage tips below).
Serve warm Mixed bean and beef chilli con carne over steamed basmati rice, with a plop of sour cream, scattered with coriander and chopped avocado.
The Chilli con carne recipe will yield four serves of about 1 kilo (2 lb) each (1 kilo will serve four). I love making a massive vat of chilli con carne, but if you don’t have the freezer space, it’s easy to halve the ingredients. Chilli con carne can be stored in the fridge and should be used within three days; or it can be frozen for up to 3 months.
If unavailable, dried berlotti beans can be replaced with cannellini beans, lima beans or black (turtle) beans.
Cooking dried beans is not as painful as it may seem – I often cook mine in the morning while we’re having breakfast, so they’re ready to use at dinner time. If you’re really pushed for time though, you can replace the cooked dried beans with 2 x 400g (15 oz) cans cannellini (white kidney) beans and 2 x 400g (15 oz) cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed. Canned beans will become a bit mushy after simmering, but the finished dish will still be delicious.
*Blackstrap molasses is available from health food stores and from the health section of large supermarkets. I love it! It contains high levels of calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium; and lends a rich sweet taste to savoury dishes. It’s commonly used in baked beans and licorice. You can also use it in BBQ sauce which goes beautifully with pulled pork! If unavailable, it can be replaced with 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar or even maple syrup – add a dash more pepper to counter the sweetness though.
You can dial up the chilli for more heat. I find one teaspoon of chilli powder is just the right amount for the kids, but I add chopped fresh red chilli to the adult’s serves.
BABY TIP: You can make a little pot of ‘Baby con carne’ at the same time. It freezes well in ice-cube trays. Use a small amount of onion, minced beef, chopped and de-seeded fresh tomatoes, grated carrot and cooked beans. You can also add chopped liver for an iron boost! Add water (or home-made chicken stock) and simmer until thick. Puree until completely smooth, or mash it up for older babies. Older babies may also like a dash of cumin added and grated cheese on top.
[Recipe 2] Chilli bean and beef soft tacos
♦ 4 cups (1 kilo/2 lb) reserved mixed bean and beef chilli con carne
CHOOSE YOUR SIDES:
2 tomatoes, chopped
Chopped avocado or guacamole
Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF); or warm a char-grill plate on the stove-top.
♦ Warm reserved bean and beef chilli con carne slightly. Spoon into tortillas.
Fold over or roll up to enclose.
Place in a large, oiled baking dish, loosely covered in foil and bake for 10 minutes. Or warm the soft tacos on a char-grill, until lightly charred (my preferred method).
Arrange the suggested sides in sharing bowls on the table. Serve soft tacos immediately.
Swap the tortillas for crunchy tacos or fajitas for a change.