I can’t help but find Heston Blumenthal a little bit smug. I’m sure he is wonderful when you know him in person but I don’t always warm to they way he comes across on television. Saying that, I can’t help but be intrigued by his cooking and admire his passion and creativity. His dishes are all extremely well thought out and are also a little bit different; some are outright insane! I would love to visit his restaurant ‘The Fat Duck’ one day as I think it would be a fantastic experience but between the lengthy waiting list and the prices, I think it will be a long time yet before I visit!
I recently watched ‘How to Cook Like Heston’ on channel 4. I thought it was a pretty good series with lots of interesting tips and techniques; each episode focussed on one specific food type for example, beef, eggs, chocolate and cheese. My boyfriend and I happened to catch some of the episode on ‘beef’ on repeat the other week and watched Heston make his version of chilli con carne. Since we both like chilli and the recipe involved ingredients we tend to have in the house, we decided to make it ourselves and see if the Heston treatment and all the extra effort made the dish something really worth talking about.
Now for a few facts about chilli con carne…
- Chilli con carne is Spanish for chilli with meat.
- This dish originated from the Lone Star State, Texas and is the state’s official dish.
- Texans refer to the dish as ‘a bowl of red’ and many think it a travesty to add beans to the mixture.
- During the 1880’s, brightly dressed Mexican women known as ‘chilli queens’ would build charcoal or wood fires at public places in San Antonio and sell bowls of reheated chilli to passersby. In 1937, health regulations meant that the ‘chilli queens’ disappeared almost overnight.
Back to the recipe…..! As always, I made some adaptations. Being health conscious from time to time, I used extra lean beef mince and low fat marg instead of butter. In fact, I used under half the amount of marg that the recipe called for and a bit less red wine. I do not think this had a negative affect on the outcome although I’m sure Heston would beg to differ. Heston’s chilli con carne is a fairly healthy dish if you make such adjustments and is packed full of healthy ingredients like tomatoes and peppers.
The dish did take a long time to make, I can’t deny that. In fact, it took hours!! I don’t have a pressure cooker so had to cook certain elements in the recipe for twice as long.
Was all of the effort worth it? I would say it probably was. The chilli really was very tasty. It was a lovely dark red colour and had a real kick. The cherry tomatoes added a bit of sweetness to the dish and after cooking, they really were the most ‘tomatoey’ tomatoes I had ever tasted!! That may sound rather ridiculous but I can’t think of another way to describe the taste!!
This is not one of Heston’s craziest recipes but it really is delicious. I would suggest it is a recipe to have on the go when spending a day around the house as it does take so long but your efforts will really rewarded when it is time to dig in! Maybe Heston deserves to be smug afterall….