I affectionately call chilli slop. It’s actually a complement – sloppy food has always been my favourite kind of food. When I first heard of a ‘sloppy joe’ my mouth started watering before I even knew what it was (and quickly subsided when I did find out – although the plantbased version is bangin’). I just find slop to be so comforting. Nothing beats relaxing with a warm bowl of soft, mushy, spoons-only food. I know, I’m not justifying my position very well, but just think oatmeal, soups, veggie stews, curries. They’re all easy to eat since the chewing part is basically already done for you. Gross, I know. But so damn good.
I’ve heard so many tips when it comes to making a good chilli, and this bean-based recipe is the result of a lot of experimentation. For me, a good chilli has to have a real depth to the flavour, which I associate with a rich, deep red colour too. It mustn’t be watery slop either – it’s not soup, and should stew for long enough that it doesn’t need a ladle to pour out the extra sauce. Nor should it be super spicy without any actual flavour; I find this to be a common issue when ordering vegan food at a non-vegan restaurant where it seems that they feel the need to overcompensate for the lack of meat or dairy. If you find yourself breathing fire, you can’t taste anything else. A good tactic for bad cooks? Or at least for a cook who hears the word ‘vegan’ and blanks. Of course I’m glad there are options at all, but if you don’t like spicy food you might be resigned to the classic chips and salad. With this version you can adjust the spice to your tastes – if you just love having your head blown off then by all means, add all the chilli powder you like.
To get that depth of flavour that I so desire I started experimenting with cocoa, since I’ve heard it said many-a-time that chocolate is key to a good chilli but I didn’t have any chocolate in the house. The first time I tried it I was a little heavy-handed and added so much cocoa that became a weird concoction firmly on the main meal/dessert border. Maybe a solution for those sweet-toothed like me who love a square of chocolate after a savoury meal?
No. Definitely not. I don’t mind saying that it was pretty disgusting (but I forced it down because food waste is not OK).
Needless to say that on my next attempt I was much more careful with the cocoa. Add some peanut butter – yes, peanut butter – and you’re on to a winner; because chocolate and peanut butter always work together, duh? Adding the pb was a tip from a friend who supposedly heard it from a very well-known chef, and who am I to argue? These ingredients definitely do add a nice richness to the chilli, and paired with some traditionally sweet spices like Nutmeg and cinnamon it makes a warming bowl of thick, rich slop. Wonderful.
It’s also so easy to make, it only requires three instructions. Doubley-wonderful.
Chilli, or, ahem, spicy beany slop, is a firm favourite all year round for me. Once you’ve completed the two minutes of prep and it’s simmering away, you can enjoy the smell of all of the spices as they mingle and waft around the room. The combination of nutmeg and cinnamon might leave you dreaming of snowy times and make you want to curl up with a hot water bottle, but this chilli is equally good slapped on top of nachos with some fresh, zingy guacamole, sour cream, and salsa (recipes coming soon!) on a warm summer evening. I’ve also had it with pasta, potatoes, and just on it’s own. Endless possibilities!
Sloppy bean chilli
- 1 onion (red or white (link))
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pepper – red or yellow, chopped
- 4 tbsps tomato puree
- 400g can chopped tomatoes
- 400g can kidney beans (or any other beans you like)
- 200g can sweetcorn
- 1 heaped tbsp smooth peanut butter (you can also use powdered peanut butter such as pb2, but use a little more – 1.5-2 tbsps of the powder should be about right.)
- 1 level tbsp cocoa powder
- ½ tsp Cinnamon
- ½ tsp Nutmeg
- 1tsp Turmeric
- 1 pinch black pepper
- 1tsp Chilli powder
- Begin by sauteing the onion, garlic and pepper until soft. I don’t use oil so I just add a few tbsps water to the pan instead.
- Turn the heat down and add the tomato puree, peanut butter, cocoa and spices to the pan. Mix them up – the colour may be pretty gross at this point! – and let them heat through before you add the beans, sweetcorn and chopped tomatoes.
- Put the lid on the pan and leave to simmer on a low heat for 20 mins, or 30 mins if you like your beans soft like I do.