Preparation started on Thursday evening: for the chili sin carne, I power-soaked the dried black beans. You bring water to the boil, add the dried beans, boil for 3 minutes, take the pan off the heat and, keeping the lid closed, leave for 2 or more hours.
Friday evening was spent making up tortillas with specially treated Masa harina flour bought from the coolchile.co.uk. I mixed blue and white harina flour with warm water, kneading until my dough was clay-like. I then formed small balls which, after covering both sides of the tortilla press with oiled greaseproof paper (the oiled sides enabling the paper to stick to the press), I placed in the middle of the press. You pull down the lever of the press, flattening the balls into a little circle. I then rotated the circle, pulling down the lever again, to ensure that all sides of the tortilla were equal in thickness. I made about 60 on Friday evening, interleaving them with greaseproof paper, keeping them in the fridge overnight.
“Don’t have your address. PLEASE message me soon!”.
I think we had gotten so busy emailing back and forth about her husband’s forthcoming home restaurant I had forgotten to give her this vital information.
“Thank you, be there shortly”.
“the whole flat smells of Mexico”.
The Aga has been put through its paces over the last few weeks. The temperature does start to drop when all 3 ovens and both hot plates are in use.
“…cooking for a restaurant on an Aga…it must be really hard…in fact it’s insane…because the Aga is the ultimate in ‘Slow food’…you can’t just blast something at the end”.
“I heard it and got on my laptop immediately, I must book it!” she said.
“So how did you two meet?”
“What does she do in life?” I asked.
“Drink gin and make wallets out of tape” he shot back.
Chilli sin carne
- 500 g black beans, preferably dried rather than tinned and soaked overnight at least
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 brown onions, chopped
- 2 tbsp cumin, ground
- 1 tbsp mexican oregano
- 50 g tomato puree
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 800 g tinned tomatoes
- 1 chipotle dried, remove seeds and soak for 15 minutes in hot water, then chop finely
- 1 ancho or pasilla dried, as above
- 50g jaggery or brown sugar
- 150 g dark chocolate
- 2 oranges, juice of
- 3 tbsp sea salt. Add after an hour of cooking, then keep tasting and adding.
- Soak the beans. The fresher the beans the less you have to soak but if they are old, soak at least for 24 hours. You can use tins but I've tried both and dried tastes so much better.
- Drain the beans. Take a large cooking pot.
- Add the oil, then onions, cumin, oregano, tomato puree, garlic, one by one, frying and stirring in between.
- Add tinned tomatoes, the soaked chillies, the sugar, the orange juice, and keep tasting and seasoning.
- Cook for 3 hours at least or until beans are soft. Keep checking every half hour or so and add water if it looks like getting dry.