What a beast of a dish. This meaty monster stands up and wallops you right in the smacker with a full on assault of smokey hot chilli and unctuous beefy heat. Definitely not for the faint hearted.
Or indeed those with a lack of time or the inclination to spend a good few hours in the kitchen. This is something that rewards the effort you put in. But don’t worry, it’s not complex or in any way subtle, although you do need to pay some attention to balancing the flavours. They have a tendency to jostle and shove.
The joy if big-pot cooking like this is that theres plenty or room for manoeuvre. Is something too dominant? Add something else to mellow it out. And this dish is particularly flexible when it comes to heat.
I like my heat to leave a warm trail down your gullet, and then infuse your body with a slow-building heat. But if you want to whack the heat up to nuclear armageddon just substitute the plain old red chillies with a couple of scotch bonnets or habaneros.
On the other hand, if you’re idea of heat is more September sun than hellish inferno leave out the cayenne. Next time I do this I’d add a third chipotle for more of the hot smokiness so redolent of the Southern US where this dish can trace its roots.
Basically a Texan take on a Mexican mole, it’s moved way beyond the humble beans ‘n’ beef with a dash o’ chilli. These days it’s taken very seriously indeed, spawning competitions and fiendishly complex dishes designed to blow your brains out.
My effort, while ideally maturing overnight is no where near as complex – or tongue numbingly hot. The key is to give the flavours time to combine. You can swap ingredients in and out – wine for bourbon or beer, short rib for shin or brisket.
But do give some thought to the chillies – chipotle give smokey heat, the cayenne more oomphy straight-up warmth. Thai scuds would add a cleaner, searing heat, but you’d have to balance that out with something. Scotch bonnet would be a better bet, fruity as well as eye-wateringly hot.
Basically just have fun. Jump in with both boots and enjoy getting your hands dirty. Play around, leave it plenty of time to mature, and cook it low and slow. Vigorous boiling and smoking oil is a definite no-no. For maximum effect cook it in a dutch oven over a fire, then eat it outdoors before saddling your hoss and riding into the sunset.
A long low and slow cooked short rib beef chilli
Serves 6 with rice, or 4 hungry cowboys
For the ribs
1.5-2kg beef short ribs
1 onion – washed and quartered
2 carrots – peeled and chopped into chunks
2 sticks celery – chopped into chunks
2 bay leaves
20 pepper corns
For the chilli
Half a bottle of decent red wine
2 onions – peeled and diced
2 carrots -peeled and diced
2 sticks celery – diced
1 red pepper – diced
2-6 red chillies (depending on strength/variety)-finely chopped with seeds
2 dried chipotle chillies – soaked in warm water for 20 mins then finely chopped
4 cloves garlic – finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp smokey paprika
Half tsp ground cinnamon
1 tblsp molasses/black treacle
250ml reduced beef stock (from the ribs)
half a bottle of red wine
1 tin cherry or chopped tomatoes
1 tin of borlotti beans – washed and drained
1 tblsp tomato ketchup
1 tblsp tomato puree or umami paste
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
First cook the ribs. Put all the ingredients into a deep pan, cover with water and cook at a slow simmer for 3-4 hours. Then remove from the heat and when they’re cool enough pull the meat from the bones and remove the fat, then pull it apart into large chunks. Seive the stock and put aside.
Put some oil and butter in a deep, heavy pan over a low heat. Add the onion, cover and cook on a low heat for 15-20 minutes. Stir in the carrot, celery and red pepper, cover and cook for another 10 mins.
Add the garlic, chillies and spices. Stir and cook for a minute or two. Now stir the beef back in and cook for about five minutes, stirring carefully so as not to break up the beef too much (it will still disintegrate a bit).
Pour in the wine, tomatoes and stock, bring to a simmer and stir in the paste, ketchup, molasses and bay leaf. Season and simmer for at least 30mins. At this stage I put the chilli into the fridge for a day.
Add the beans to the mix and simmer slowly for another 30-60 minutes. Serve with cornbread, over rice or potatoes, or just spoon it into a bowl and enjoy.