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Skillets and Pots

For the past week, there has been snow in different parts of the country, and yesterday we got our dose. I was out in it and while it was picturesque, it was very cold - as you would expect - and all I could think about was getting a big bowl of something warm.

Like chilli. Delicious, warm, spicy chilli. I very rarely make chilli but when I do, I love it. It's one of those things I'll make a huge batch of and freeze so I can use it for multiple meals. It is always delicious, whether you have it with rice, nachos, sweet potato or cornbread. Mmmm chilli and cornbread. It's comforting and so easy to make.

The thing with chilli is you can make it quickly or you can make it slowly. Making it quickly makes the chilli gorgeous. Making the chilli slowly takes it to another level. It's smoky and spicy and even a little bit sweet. It's the perfect winter warmer and you can even dilute it with beef stock and turn it into a soup.

But. Let's talk about the very non-English thing that goes perfectly with this meal: cornbread. It always used to confuse me when recipes would call for cornmeal. I'd get so disheartened when I couldn't find it in the shops. But then I realised, polenta is cornmeal. They are both ground up maize. I won't admit how long it took me to realise that. It's quite embarrassing.

Anyway, I was really excited about making my cornbread today because I bought my first ever iron skillet. I've used them at work but I've never had my own before. Normally I would make cornbread in an oven dish, which is completely fine. I just really, really wanted to use my new skillet. I think cornbread is a good initiation for it. Next stop: skillet cookie.

Another thing I love is my casserole pot. I have the worst hobs in the world and if I leave anything to simmer it either burns because the heat is too high or doesn't cook because the heat is too low. BUT casserole dishes are wonderful in the oven. Just one reason why they are so great.

Chilli and Cornbread

  • 3 large white onions, diced

  • 7 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 green pepper, deseeded and diced

  • 160g good quality chorizo, peeled and thinly sliced

  • 2 tbsp smoky paprika

  • 2 tsp chipotle chilli powder

  • 1 tsp chilli flakes

  • 2 tins kidney beans, drained

  • 1kg minced beef

  • 1 tin tomatoes

  • 200ml beef stock

For the cornbread:

  • 200g polenta

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 100g plain flour

  • 50g melted butter

  • 1 egg

  • 1 tbsp baking powder

  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

  • 240ml buttermilk

  • 150ml milk

Start with the cornbread. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees C. If you're not using an iron skillet, heat the oven dish in the oven as it's warming up. Mix together the flour, salt and polenta. In a separate bowl, mix together the buttermilk, milk and egg. Pour the wet into the dry and mix everything together. Then mix in the melted butter, baking powder and bicarb.

When the oven dish or skillet is warm, carefully grease it with butter and pour in the mixture, level it out and bake for about 20 minutes until the top is nice and golden brown. When the cornbread comes out, cover it with a clean tea towel and turn the oven down to 175 degrees C if you're going to cook the chilli in the oven. If you're going to cook the chilli on the hob, you can turn the oven off.

While the cornbread is baking, heat some olive oil in a casserole dish or a large oven proof saucepan. Fry the onions until they are soft and translucent. Add the garlic and peppers and fry off until the peppers are soft.

Add the chorizo to the pot and fry until the chorizo has released quite a bit of oil. Add the minced beef and cook stirring all the time to break up the meat. Once it's completely brown add the spices and stir until well combined. Add the beans, tomatoes and stock, mix well and put the lid on the pot. Either simmer for 45 minutes stirring every 15 minutes if you have good hobs or if your hobs are like mine, put the pot in the oven for an hour, stirring halfway through.

Serve with the cornbread and lots of fixings. Sour cream, coriander and cheese are good ones. Guacamole is another good one - but I didn't have any.


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