Well this just takes the old Mexican Chilli Con Carne to a whole new level! I am always looking for ways to re-invent family favourites and when I saw a similar version of this in a magazine recently I just knew I had to make my own rendition of it. Who wants to eat the same things day in – day out? Don’t get me wrong……I still love a big old pot of chilli but I was looking for something a little more…..something heartier but on the lighter side of hearty. This would have been sensational with mash or pastry, but the cheesy cauliflower sitting proudly on top of spicy, tender chunks of beef and beans that had been infused in the slow cooker for 6 hours was exactly that…..hearty but by no means stodgy. It was outstanding!
This recipe would be suitable for the oven if you don’t have a slow cooker. Simply brown the beef first and set aside then fry the onions before adding the liquids and the beef back to the pan. Bring to a simmer and place in an ovenproof dish, cover with a lid or foil and bake at 160°C for 3-4 hours or until the beef is meltingly tender. Add the lime and coriander at the last minute and either place in individual pie dishes or top a large dish with the cauliflower and bake for a further 30 minutes…..
I have also cooked this in the pressure cooker which is a much speedier method but by no means compromises the flavour. I browned the beef and onions first, added the sauce and cooked on high for 20 minutes. I added the beans and cooked for a further 10 minutes before transferring to an ovenproof casserole dish, stirring through the coriander and lime. Top with the cauliflower then bake for a further 30 minutes or until golden and bubbling.
Prep time: 30 Minutes
Cooking time: 7 Hours (slow cooker method)
$$ Medium Budget
Serves 4 with Leftovers
Olive oil for frying
800gm of beef chuck steak cut in to 2.5cm pieces
1 large brown onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic
2 tbs of Em’s Mexican Spice Blend
1 dried Mexican ancho chilli, rehydrated in boiling water (reserve the water)
1/2 a bunch of thyme, tied with string
1 tbs of red wine vinegar
400gm tin of tomatoes
2 tbs of tomato paste
400gm tin of red kidney beans
2 tsp of sugar
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1/2 a bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
Sea salt and cracked pepper
For the Cauliflower:
1 small cauliflower, broken in to florets
40gm of butter
1 heaped tbs of plain flour
2 cups of milk
40gm of Mersey valley Cheddar, crumbled (totally optional but adds loads of flavour)
1 tbs of pickled jalapeno chilli’s, finely chopped + extra for topping
1/2 a cup of grated tasty cheese, plus extra for sprinkling on top
1 tsp of Mexican Spice Blend, for sprinkling
Sea salt and cracked pepper
Heat a frypan to a nice high heat, add a little oil and brown the meat in batches. In the same pan fry the onions until soft and add the thyme bundle. Once the onions are soft, transfer the meat and onions to the slow cooker.
Place the garlic, spice blend, rehydrated chilli, 1/2 the chilli water, tomatoes, tomato paste and sugar to a small processor, blender or Ninja and season well with salt and pepper. Blitz for 30 seconds until the mixture is relatively smooth then pour over the meat and onions. Tuck a piece of baking paper over the top of the mixture before turning the slow cooker on low. Cook for 6 hours, stirring occasionally if you can but if you can’t……don’t worry. Stir the drained kidney beans, coriander and lime juice through just before adding to an oven proof casserole dish.
When the slow cooker is almost ready pre heat your oven to 180°C.
To make the cheese sauce, heat a large saucepan and melt the butter. Season with salt and pepper and add the flour, whisking to combine. Allow the roux to cook for about 60 seconds before pouring in the milk, a little at a time and whisking continuously until the mixture is thickened and just coming to the boil. Once the mixture is thickened and simmering, whisk in the cheeses and jalapeno’s, continuing to stir until the cheese has melted.
Either steam the cauliflower on the stove for 4-5 minutes or pop it in a microwave dish with 1 tablespoon of water, cover and cook on high for 4 minutes or until just tender and drain off any water. When the beef is ready, place the cauliflower florets on top of the beef in the casserole dish and pour over the cheesy sauce, top with the remaining grated cheese, pickled Jalapenos and sprinkle with the spice blend. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbling.
Remove from the oven and allow to rest for about 10 minutes before serving with a crisp salad or steamed greens.
Leftover Mexican Spice Blend? You may want to make this…..