Mexican food is perfect when the chill sets in and yet it also lends itself well to hot, humid weather. So wherever you are based in the world at this point in time this Mexican chilli beef is a must. The warm, smokey taste from the pasilla and ancho chilli add a wonderful, addictive, depth to this dish that are well suited to the adult and child palate.
If you can cook it a day in advance the flavours really open up, but if you don’t have the time or inclination try and cook it in the morning if you are going to eat it later in the day.
So you may be wondering where on earth do you get Mexican chillies? I tend to buy mine online and I personally find Melbury & Appleton have a good selection and are quick and efficient to deliver. They also provide 1kg catering packs for the serious Mexican chilli aficionados, which is perfect for when I want to make my chipotle en adobe, it also works out far more cost effective in the long run.
This is cosy, comfort eating at it’s best and perfect to feed a crowd. Washed down with one of my brother’s ales – check out Wiper and True (he is the True part of the name!) then you have yourself a knock out meal. Don’t go putting his ale in the dish though, it’s too good for that – use any old lager you have to hand.
Just take a look at that tasty morsel of meat with the smokey gravy working it’s magic and the wonderful combination of dry roasted pumpkin seeds, butternut squash, raw red onion, avocado and sour cream. A match made in heaven. Seriously give it a go. You won’t regret it and I can guarantee it will become one of your firm favourites going forward.
Mexican Chilli Beef with Butternut Squash
Adapted from a recipe ‘Beef and Squash Chilli’ in the December 2014 issue of Bon Appetit
1 large dried pasilla chilli (2 if it is small)
1 dried ancho chilli
700ml chicken broth/stock
2 tbsp olive oil
1kg boneless stewing steak/beef chuck, cut into bite sized pieces
1tsp rock salt and black pepper
1 large white onion, finely chopped
8 garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp tomato puree
1 small (500g) butternut squash skin removed, cubed into bite sized pieces
1 lime, juice only
2 avocado, diced into 1 inch cubes
3 tbsp pumpkin seeds, dry roasted
1 tbsp of sour cream per serving
1 red onion, finely sliced
1. First dry roast the dried chillies in a frying pan for a couple of minutes on both sides so that they darken and soften. Remove from the heat and place in a bowl with 500ml of boiling water for up to 30 minutes. Then drain and remove the stork and the seeds and place the chillies in a blender along with the chicken stock, and blend until smooth.
2. In a heavy based pan – I use my Le Creuset Pot – heat the oil and then add the seasoned stewing steak and stir at intervals until the redness has gone and the meat becomes brown. This will take around 5-7 minutes. When the beef is brown take it out of the pan using a slotted spoon and place on a plate. There will be a fair amount of liquid that has come from the beef. Once the beef has been removed, turn up the heat so that the liquid evaporates. This will only take a couple of minutes.
3. Once the pan has become dry, add the onion. You may find you need to add a little more oil at this stage. Stir the onion so that it becomes coated in the remnants of the beef juices, add a pinch more salt at this stage. After 4 minutes add the garlic and stir well into the onions. Let the onions and garlic cook together for a couple of minutes.
4. Add the oregano, ground cumin, tomato puree and stir together for a minute before returning the beef to the pan along with the lager. Increase the heat so that the lager begins to be absorbed. After a couple of minutes add the chilli puree that you made to begin with. Increase the heat so that it boils and then reduce it and leave to simmer gently for around 30 minutes.
5. Add the squash and continue to simmer for a further 15-20 minutes or until the squash has softened. Add the lime juice and stir gently. Leave to rest before serving.
6. Place the pumpkin seeds on a baking tray. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and then add 1 tsp of olive oil over the pumpkin seeds. Place in the oven for no more than 10 minutes, being careful to check they do not burn. Let them cool before serving.
To plate up add the Mexican chilli beef, a dollop of sour cream on the side, the roasted pumpkin seeds over the chilli beef and sour cream, a scattering of thinly sliced red onions and then a few avocado cubes. The combination of all these flavours makes for a really memorable meal.