Monday, 3 October 2011

I tell you what I want what I really really want.....

"Chilli con Cronin" 
Chilli Con Carne
"Feel my breath mammy" says my 4 year old as he breaths on me like the fiercest dragon in Limerick. Yeah, our chilli is spicy and we love it! 
When I was weaning him as a baba, I slowly introduced the mildest curries to his diet, determined that I wouldn't spawn a fussy eater. It worked. (kinda) Tj's favourite food, hands down is Chilli Con Carne, or Chilli Con Cronin as I named it years ago, (my maiden name, but that's another story) and I dont scrimp on the chilli, Theres little point, there's creme fraiche or a dollop of Greek yogurt for the bantom weights. My Chilli's got punch. I guess everyone's got their own version, mines evolved quite considerably from my teens when my version of chilli was leftover bolognese with tabasco and kidney beans thrown in. This IS perfected, if I urge you to try any recipe from My blog, try this. It will be the best you've ever tasted. A bold statement, but then again, I'm very bold. 
I've loads of oregano growing in my garden,
you could use dried or fresh coriander would
be good too.
500g of best quality round mince
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
3 fresh big red chillis, deseeded and chopped
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
1 dessert spoon of dark brown muscavado sugar
2 tins of plum tomatoes chopped
1 tin of kidney beans, drained
1 large bunch of fresh oregano, chopped
1 oz of dark chocolate 70% min (don't ask, it works)

** Use big heaped teaspoons of the spices
Heat a splash of oil in a heavy saucepan and gently fry onions, chili and garlic until soft. Turn up heat and add mince and cook until nicely browned. Add salt, sugar and spices and keep stirring for about 2 minutes to cook off the spices.

Inhale. Its something else. 

Add the tomatoes and bring to the boil, reduce heat and allow to reduce to your liking. I don't like to reduce too much, about 20 mins is fine for me. 

Finish with beans, chopped oregano and chocolate. The chocolate to me is nearly as important as the chilli, it brings a depth to the dish that I can't articulate. Just do it. You'll note the difference but it won't taste chocolatey.
Serve with rice, tortilla chips, a sprinkle of cheddar and a dallop of creme fraiche or Greek yogurt. 

If you're not happy, take it up with tj.

Nachos-Cinema style

Processed cheese is key
As we are on the mexican theme, I thought I'd throw in a wild card. Some of you may be disgusted, others intrigued. But this is unadulterated Food Goo pleasure. I did a few food experiments to try and perfect the nacho sauce, but I couldn't figure out how putting a bucket full of cheddar just didn't seem to give it punch. It wasn't 'plasticky' enough. And therein lies the answer. Plastic cheese! Ok, obviously not literally, but processed cheese is the key to this sauce. TJ goes bananas for it, but due to it's obvious calorific and processed qualities, this is a guilty pleasure and rare treat. The tumeric is purely for colour as it needs to be vibrant to imitate those cinema night indulgences. 

It's bright and silky
Gooey Nacho sauce (makes enough for about 6-8 people)
2 oz butter
2 ox plain flour
1 teaspoon of tumeric
1 pint of milk
200g of processed cheese. (I used Charleville slices)
salt & pepper to taste (surpringly, I needed quite a bit of salt)

Melt the butter, add the flour and tumeric and stir for a couple of minutes until the flour has cooked. add the milk and stir continuously with a baloon whisk until the sauce thickens. Add the cheese and season to taste.

Preheat the oven to about 200 degrees. Put the torilla chips in the hot oven for a couple of minutes to warm through. Serve with the Gooey Nacho sauce.I like it with firey jalapenos, Tj likes it with some salsa. You could also serve it with sour cream and guacamole, refried beans or a cold beer and a sombrero if the mood takes you.


  1. Me & Tj need to talk! Can't be doing with all the spicy stuff. Just doesn't suit me. Love your recipes and pics, though. Well done you (and Tj, of course).

  2. Lovely recipe and I can't wait to try it.

    Really cool idea re: Cinema Nacho's - my wife loves Cinema Nachos and melting the Charleville cheese to make it plasticky is very clever!

    It reminded me of Heston Blumenthal's original hamburger recipe, which he made from 3 cuts of steak. The American style cheese he wanted, processed cheese, he made himself.

    Its Sodium Citrate that makes the cheese plastic-like - it stops it from sepearating.