I get a lot of fun out of the blog. It keeps me in touch with friends old and new from all parts of the globe. I learn lots and hopefully I give a little back. One of the ‘friends’ I have gathered to my metaphorical bosom (being male and of “a certain age” my bosom is most definitely metaphorical) is Adam J. Holland, the oddball Texan and author of the excellent RV Chronicles on his Unorthodox Epicure blog. I have cooked numerous chillies over the last couple of years, having been introduced to “real” chilli by the late and great Richard E. McGary our much missed Dallas blogger. Having received a gift of some chillies, I was delighted to tell Adam that I planned to cook a lamb chilli. His reaction surprised me somewhat….
Adam’s immediate reaction was a bit shocking. “…just remember to not add beans, because we hang people for that around these parts.” That set me back a bit. However, I’m nothing if not stubborn and often stupid with it. Lamb and Butterbean Chilli it was going to be, no matter what they might think over in Huston.
Ingredients for Lamb and Butterbean Chilli
- 1 kilo of lamb shoulder cubed
- 750 grammes of lamb shoulder minced
- 250 grammes of butterbeans (pre-soaked)
- 4 kinds of dried chillies – 2 or 3 of each Mulato, Ancho, Guajillo and Puya.
- 3 onions
- 1 small tin of tomato purée
- 1 tin of whole tomatoes
- 500 ml of good lamb or beef stock
- 2 teaspoons of fennel seeds
- 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 big handful of coriander (cilantro)
- Some olive oil
- Salt and pepper to season
Place the chillis in a bowl and add about half a litre of very hot water. This will reconstitute the chillies and when blitzed will make a demon, punchy blend of flavour.
Side not on adding the chillies: Before I learned better, I used to dry the chilies in the oven and grind them in the mortar. The chilli dust would get in the air and make me sneeze and cause my eyes water. This would lead to me rubbing my eyes. You can guess the rest. This way is easier on the eye, if you will pardon me stealing the expression.
Remove the stalks from the chillies when they are soft. Tip them and the water into a blender. Blend.
While the chillies are reconstituting, brown the lamb, in a little of the oil, in a large casserole. Dry fry the fennel and cumin seeds. When they are a nice deep brown colour, grind them to dust in a mortar or spice mill, if you are lucky enough to own one.
Chop the onions into quarters and then eights. When all the lamb is browned, turn down the heat and sweat down the onions in the same casserole.
Add the tomato paste and cook this until it starts to darken a bit and release tomato aromas. Add the ground seeds and stir to incorporate.
Add the meat and stir until everything is coated in thick flavoursome gunge.
Add the chilli mixture and the stock.
Add the bayleaf and season. Don’t overdo the salt and pepper, you can add more later. Place in a 180ºC oven for an hour and a half. Drain and rinse the butterbeans.
Side note on the use of butterbeans: If you are a weak willed sort of person (afraid of being hung by Adam and his Texas lynch mob), or if you feel you have enough roughage in your diet, you can leave them out.
Take the chilli out of the oven and, to the distress of every self respecting, ten gallon hat wearing, oil field owning Texan, add the butterbeans to the chilli. Chop and add the coriander. Stir and return to the oven for half an hour.
Serve this delicious dish with some rice, tortilla chips, guacamole and a slice of lime. Be sure to post somebody at the door to watch out for Holland and his band of marauding mercenaries. If they do arrive, I bet they will be converted. This was particularly tasty.