2 kg beef brisket , trimmed and sliced into 2.5cm thick pieces across the grain
500 ml hot coffee
3 large dried chillies (ancho, chipotle or poblano)
2 heaped teaspoons ground cumin
2 heaped teaspoons smoked paprika
1 heaped teaspoon dried oregano
2 fresh bay leaves
2 red onions , peeled and diced
3–4 fresh chillies
2 cinnamon sticks
10 cloves of garlic , peeled and finely sliced
freshly ground black pepper
4 x 400 g tins of chopped tomatoes
3 tablespoons molasses or muscovado sugar
3 red, yellow or orange peppers , deseeded and sliced
2 x 400 g tins of beans (kidney, butter or pinto) , drained
soured cream , to serve
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Everyone should know how to make a really good chilli, and this one’s a right cracker. I’ve been working on it for a while, and cowboy-land helped me pull it together. The cut of meat is really affordable and delicious, and gives the chilli a gorgeous texture, similar to a beef stew. I wanted to make sure this had real attitude, so I achieved a brilliant depth of flavour by mixing dried chillies with fresh ones and adding fresh herbs. I made this the cowboy way, over a fire, and when you’re cooking like that, one of the best ways to control the temperature is to add liquid. The cowboys had plenty of coffee to hand, so I used that and it ended up adding to the wonderfully unique flavour.
Ask your butcher to trim and slice your brisket for you. If you’re doing it yourself, carefully trim the meat by discarding any fat or silver skin. Cut the meat against, rather than with, the grain into 2.5cm thick pieces.
Make your coffee and, while it’s hot, soak the dried chillies in it for a few minutes to let them rehydrate. Meanwhile, put your largest casserole type pan on a low heat and add a few lugs of olive oil, the cumin, paprika, oregano, bay leaves and onions.
Fry for 10 minutes, until the onions have softened. Deseed and chop half your fresh chillies. Slice up the rehydrated chillies and add them to the onion mixture along with the chopped fresh chilli, the cinnamon sticks, sliced garlic, a good pinch of salt and pepper and a splash of the chilli-infused coffee. Stir, then add the rest of the coffee, the tinned tomatoes and the molasses or sugar. Add the pieces of brisket and another good pinch of salt and pepper, cover with a lid and simmer for around 3 hours, stirring occasionally.
After a few hours use 2 forks or a potato masher to break the meat up and pull it apart. Once you’ve done this, add the sliced peppers and tinned beans and leave to simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes with the lid off until the meat is completely falling apart and delicious. Have a taste and season well – if you require a bit more heat (like I would), this is the time to deseed and chop the rest of your fresh chilli and stir it in. Dollop a big spoonful of soured cream over the chilli if you fancy it, and serve straight from the pan, with fluffy rice, flatbreads or potatoes and a really nice fresh lemony green salad. Don’t forget multiple cold beers! Enjoy.