The No Seconds Club
How not to host a dinner party.
For those interested in baking, cooking, knitting, any form of domestic goddess goodness, you will not find such interests here. I am much too shallow a writer for that and live by the motto “if I can’t nuke it, I won’t cook it” which sums up my love affair with the microwave.
Alas, coaxed and co-erced by my “friends”, I agreed to host a winter gathering to help ease those January blues. I must have been in a good mood that day.
One pot cooking is my specialty and so I chose the following recipe from County Cavan’s best export, Neven Maguire. It’s perfect for after-work or weekend entertaining and even better for moi, the amateur.
Chilli Con Carne with Spicy Wedges
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2lb fillet of beef sliced into thin strips
- 2 chopped onions
- 1 teaspoon hot chilli powder
- 1 tablespoon ground paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 tablespoons dark muscovado sugar
- 1 pint beef stock (I used a cube)
- 3 garlic gloves, crushed
- 1 tablespoon tomato puree
- 2lb ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1 1/2 lb potatoes
- 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
- 2 x 14oz/400g cans of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- salt and pepper
- crème fraîche and fresh coriander leaves, to garnish
- Heat half the olive oil in large pan until very hot
- Sauté half the beef strips for 10 minutes until nicely browned
- Drain with a slotted spoon and put o one side.
- Repeat with the next load of beef.
- Add the onions to the pain with the chilli powder, paprika, cumin, coriander and sugar.
- Fry gently until the onions are golden and caramelised.
- Add the beef along with the stock, garlic, tomato puree and fresh tomatoes.
- Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and leave it to simmer for one hour giving it a stir every so often.
- Meanwhile, for those spicy wedges, you want to preheat the oven too 200C.
- Cut the potatoes into wedges.
- Blanch for 2-3 minutes in a pan of boiling salted water, then drain.
- Put some olive oil in a roasting tin with a teaspoon of salt and the Cajun seasoning.
- Add the wedges and toss until they are all nicely coated.
- Arrange them into rows sitting upright on their skins.
- Bake for 35-40 minuts until they are lightly golden or, if you like them crunchy, leave for an extra 10-15 minutes.
- Back to the beef, add the kidney beans to the beef and simmer for 20 minutes until the beef is gloriously tender.
- Add a little seasoning.
Spoon the chilli beef into warm wide-rimmed bowls set on plates and garnish with a healthy dollop of crème fraîche and a sprinkle of fresh coriander leaves. Arrange the spicy wedges to one side et voilà, bon appetite!
*Apparently 2lbs of tender strips of fillet should suffice, unless it’s my friends of course. For those wanting seconds, and believe me you will, you are going to need a lot more beef.
Merlot to wash down the chilli is recommended. Advocaat is optional.
Always finish with coffee and a tasty cheese board.
Over and out.