Slow-cooked beef and beans in a rich tomato sauce spiced with chillies and cumin makes an inviting meal on a wintry day, and warm, crumbly cornbread studded with corn kernels and mild green chilli is the perfect accompaniment. Serve with a crisp salad for a hearty, well-balanced meal.
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
350 g lean stewing beef, trimmed of all excess fat and cut into small cubes
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
½ tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 can chopped tomatoes (about 400 g)
2 cans red kidney beans (about 400 g each), drained and rinsed
300 ml salt-reduced beef stock
For the cornbread
1 cup (130 g) cornmeal
1 cup (140 g) plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 large egg
1 cup (250 ml) low-fat milk
1 cup (140 g) fresh or frozen corn kernels, thawed if frozen
1 small mild fresh green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
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Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole dish, add the beef and fry over a high heat, stirring occasionally, for 3–4 minutes or until well browned. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon.
Reduce the heat to low and add the onion to the pan. Stir well and cook gently for 10 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin seeds and chilli flakes and cook, stirring, for 1 minute, then return the meat to the pan. Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, beans and stock. Stir well and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat so the mixture is simmering gently, then cover with a lid and cook for 1–1½ hours or until the meat is tender, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, make the cornbread. Preheat the oven to 200ºC and grease a shallow 20 cm square cake tin with cooking spray. Mix the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Combine the egg with the milk and stir in to make a thick, rough-looking batter (do not overmix or the bread will be tough). Fold in the corn and chilli. Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 20–25 minutes or until firm to the touch.
Turn the cornbread out of its tin and cut into large squares. Serve the chilli con carne in warmed bowls, with the warm cornbread on the side.
Some more ideas…
*Replace the beef with cubed boneless lean lamb (leg or neck fillet). Replace the chilli flakes with 1 deseeded and finely chopped medium-hot fresh green chilli, ½ tsp ground coriander and 1 cinnamon stick. Instead of kidney beans, use 2 cans chickpeas (about 400 g each), drained and rinsed, adding them to the casserole after the chilli has been cooking for 15 minutes. Also add 2 eggplants, cut into 1 cm cubes. Stir occasionally and add more stock if the mixture looks dry. At the end of the cooking time, stir in ¼ cup (15 g) chopped fresh coriander leaves. *Instead of serving with cornbread, mix 150 g coarse fresh breadcrumbs with 1 deseeded and finely chopped small, mild, fresh green chilli and scatter over the top of the chilli con carne. Bake in a preheated 220ºC oven for about 15 minutes or until the topping is crisp and golden.
*Red kidney beans are low in fat and rich in carbohydrate. They provide good amounts of niacin and vitamins B1 and B6 and useful amounts of iron. They are also a good source of soluble fibre, which can help to reduce high cholesterol levels in the blood. *Corn is a good source of complex carbohydrates and has roughly the same Glycaemic Index as an orange.