As the nights get darker, and the temperature starts to drop, I begin to think about stocking up my freezer for the winter. Soups, stews, sauces and casseroles are all wonderful things to have waiting for you at the end of a long day at work, especially when they only need to be heated up. It takes a little bit of planning, but if you can make too much of a recipe once a week and freeze the leftovers into portions, you will have a freezer full of comforting home cooking in no time!
My first winter-warming recipe has to be chilli. It’s so versatile and can be served in tacos or tortillas, over a baked potato, or just in a big bowl with rice, salad, grated cheese and sour cream. There are a million recipes for chilli, but we really like this one because it uses chunks of stewing beef rather than minced beef, and the addition of smoky chorizo really gives it another level of flavour. The long slow cooking process is great for a lazy Sunday afternoon, and the delicious smells that fill your home will have your family wondering when will it be ready!
sour cream, avocado, tomato, cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce and rice to serve
Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large, deep casserole dish, add the onions and cook until soft but not coloured. Add garlic and chillies and cook for a minute. Remove mixture from the pan and put on a plate.
Heat another tbsp of oil in the pan and brown the beef in batches, then add to plate. Add chorizo and quickly brown on all sides.
Return the beef and onion mixture to the pan, add tomato puree and spices. Cook for 1 minute before adding the stock, vinegar, sugar and tomatoes. Season, stir well and bring to the boil.
Reduce heat to a gentle simmer, cover with a lid and continue to cook on low for 1.5 hours, or until beef is very tender. Add kidney beans and cook another 30 minutes. Add the chocolate and stir until melted.
Serve with rice, lettuce, tomato, avocado, shredded cheddar and sour cream.
I can honestly say that if there’s one thing that really depresses me, it’s coming home after a very busy day, starving, and being faced with cooking solo with no plan. Ugh. I’m hungry, I’m tired, and there’s nobody here to help in any way. It happens to the best of us. And for those of us who don’t have a nice mother-type nearby to pity us and feed us, what on earth does that leave for us to do?
When I have been in this situation, I will admit to having heeded the call of the Colonel. Or visited one of many other quick greasy take-away options in my neighbourhood. Sometimes I’ve cracked open an imported box of Canadian mac & cheese, complete with very nutritional powdered cheesy sauce mix. Classy, I know. I have a girlfriend who eats a bowl of cold cereal and milk when faced with these situations. Sad, sad and sad I say.
A few months ago, the same girlfriend sent me a fantastic recipe for a stew that turned store cupboard ingredients into a magical meal in about 20 minutes, with little effort. An onion, some garlic, olive oil, chorizo, red wine and tinned white beans combined in a saucepan, simmered for as long as you were willing to wait, and presto. Take that Mr. Fried Chicken! You can keep your eleven herbs and spices!
Chorizo and Butterbean Stew with Garlic and Thyme – Serves 4
Recipe from Rick Stein Coast to Coast: Food from the Land & Sea Inspired by Travels Across the World
350g (12oz) dried Judion butter beans, soaked overnight, or 2 tins of cooked butter beans
225g (8oz) hot chorizo for cooking
50ml (2fl oz) olive oil
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
175ml (6fl oz) red wine
1 x 400g (14oz) can chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon thyme leaves, or 1 tsp dried thyme
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Put the dried butter beans into a large pan with lots of water, bring to the boil and simmer for 1 hour until tender. Drain and set aside. If using tinned beans, drain and rinse beans and set aside.
Cut the chorizo sausages into thin slices.
Put the olive oil and garlic into a pan and heat over a medium-high heat until the garlic begins to sizzle.
Add the chorizo and cook until the slices are lightly browned on either side, then add the onion and continue to cook until it has softened.
Add the red wine and cook until it has reduced to almost nothing.
Add the canned chopped tomatoes, thyme, butter beans and 1/2 a teaspoon of salt and simmer for 15 minutes.
Scatter over the parsley, spoon the stew into deep warmed bowls and serve with some crusty fresh bread.