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Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Uncle Ben's Chilli Con Carne Sauce

OK, I'm playing it safe again.

In many ways, this is going to be a rinse-and-repeat of the Spaghetti Bolognese writeup, because it's essentially frying some minced beef, then adding a ready-made sauce. Hum.

To make it a bit more interesting, therefore, I'm going to link to a proper Chilli recipe (once it's available) used by a friend who's a real American-style Chilli connoisseur, for the sake of comparison.

  • Uncle Ben's Chilli Con Carne Sauce (1 jar is enough for anywhere between 2-4 people)
  • Minced Beef (approx 300g is recommended by the instructions on the jar. Fresh is always preferable, but I've tended to use frozen, from Iceland)
  • Grated Cheese (optional)
Preparation Time: About 10 minutes!

Tools Required:
  • Medium-sized Saucepan (or Frying Pan)
  • Stirring Implement
  • 1 Burner on your Hob
The Process:
Set your chosen pan on the hob on a high setting. Add the beef, and keep it moving as it browns. There's rarely any need for extra oil, because the beef will probably contain more than enough fat. It should only take about five minutes to brown 300g, even from frozen.

Once all the beef is evenly cooked, tip in the jar of sauce, which already contains the beans, peppers and onions so, unless you're really desperate for something that's not included (mushrooms, perhaps?), there's no need to add anything else. Just keep it moving, and wait for it to start bubbling.

While this is going on, make ready with whatever extras you'll be serving along with your chilli. Tortillas and dips are always fun (and tend to be nicer when it's all served up fresh together - few things are worse than the way far too many restaurants serve chilli'n'tortillas, which ends up as a soggy, congealed lump before you're halfway through), but Uncle Ben's also have a Spicy Mexican style rice in their Express range of microwave-cooked rices. Serve up in a bowl, and top with grated cheese if required.

The Results:
I have to say, as someone who has only recently started eating chilli, I really rather liked this. The spiciness is spot on for my tastebuds, and the proportions of beans, peppers and onions in the sauce are most agreeable. Even my chilli connoisseur friend was surprised when, after a mere 10 minutes in the kitchen, I presented her with a bowl of chilli this good.

Serving it with tortillas and dips is probably the best route (though I wasn't able to find any sour cream at short notice, so we had to make do with guacamole), and I did find that the Uncle Ben's Spicy Mexican rice was perhaps a little too spicy to work as a good accompaniment to this dish - one effectively cancelled out the other. Topping with grated cheese does add to the experience, but Cheddar is probably not the right choice - it doesn't melt quickly enough, even when added to the chilli bowl immediately after serving. Something like Monterey Jack might be a better fit, as it melts more easily and its flavour isn't as intrusive on the chilli.

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