Plan Ahead Chilli

Aug 14, 2012 by

Cooking something fresh every day is a great aspiration, however life invariably gets in the way.  When you have small kids – as I did in the long distant past, I used this method, and even now when I live mostly on my own it works as well.

It means that when there are times you don’t feel like cooking, you can’t be bothered driving for a takeaway or just when you are in a rush, you always have something at hand in your freezer take away.

The essentials are a freezer and a microwave because, unless you are super-organised you will forget to take your food out of the freezer on time.

Another essential is labelling.  Sounds obvious but I have lost count of how many times I have taken out a curry, because I felt like curry (my mother used to kill us for saying this) only to discover it was beef stew or a pasta sauce.

The way to do it is to always cook more than you need.  Always!

And then to save those great plastic takeaway containers and use them to freeze your extra into individual portions.  Luckily I have friends who seem to live on takeaways and they save the containers for me.  Incidentally, they think I am mad!

Lots of meals work for this – chilli being one. I also cook extra rice and freeze it so I don’t even have to go to the trouble of cooking it.

Chilli is one of those dishes everyone has a different way of cooking and I have heard arguments about whether it should contain beans or even meat.  I spent a year and a half in California and during that time I dipped into Mexico – okay it was Tijuana , but still Mexico.  My recipe has developed over years of experimentation and it is the one I am happy with.

Chilli con Carne

2 medium onions diced
2 cloves of garlic crushed
1 carrot diced
1 stick celery diced (if you want to conceal the carrot and celery from small kids or big ones grate them)
454g mince beef or diced rib beef
1 tin kidney beans
1 tin mixed beans or broad beans (as with celery and carrot – mash if you want to conceal them)
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon hot chilli powder
2 heaped teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon turmeric.

Fry the onion and garlic until soft and just coloured.  Add in spices and cook for a few minutes.  Add in the celery and carrot.  Add beef, beans, tomatoes and cook over a low heat for at least an hour.  The longer it’s cooked the nicer it is.  It is also much nicer a day or two after cooking.

Serve with rice.

When my kids were small I used to disguise all sorts of vegetables in dishes like this either grating them or chopping them very finely.  My son hated beans so I used to mash one tin and then allow him to pick out the ones he could see.  He was happy as he thought he had got away without eating them – little did he know! I also add the turmeric as it apparently has all sorts of anti-inflammatory properties and you don’t taste it. 

Freeze the leftovers in Chinese takeaway plastic lidded containers.

The above recipe makes enough for 6-8 servings.

I freeze curries, stews, lasagne, pasta sauces and fish pie using this method of always cooking extra.  It’s so much easier to cook extra than trying to batch cook on your day off.

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