The beauty of chilli con carne, the well-loved and versatile dish from Mexico, is that you can adapt it in almost any way you like and one way or another it will still come out delicious! So make this recipe your own: feel free to be a little more liberal with the ingredients you particularly like, take out the bits you aren't so keen on and adjust the seasoning and spiciness to your personal taste. I've used a meat substitute, but you can replace it with minced beef or lamb if you prefer the real thing, or just skip it altogether.
Instead of serving traditional baked potatoes with a chilli topping, I like to remove the cooked insides and mash them with cumin and herbs before mixing in the chilli con carne and stuffing it all back into the potato skins. A quick smattering of cheese and another blast in the oven or grill, and you'll have a comforting meal with a novel twist. It does take a fair bit of time though, so to get things started you might like to serve tortilla chips and my Mexican dips while the potatoes bake to crispy perfection
- Prep: 15 minutes
- Cook: 1 hour, 30 minutes
- Total time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
- Recipe serves: 4
- 4 Large baking potatoes
- 300g Beef mince or Quorn mince
- 2 Medium onions, chopped
- 4 Cloves garlic, chopped
- 3 Hot chilli peppers, finely chopped
- 200g Kidney beans
- 200g Pinto beans or sweet corn
- 6 Tomatoes, peeled and chopped (or 1 tin of chopped tomato)
- 1 Glass of red wine
- 1 Large bunch of fresh coriander or parsley, finely chopped
- 1 tsp Dried cumin
- 150g Mature cheddar cheese, grated
- Sour cream to serve
- Olive oil
- Salt & pepper
- Rub the potatoes with olive oil and generous amounts of salt and pepper before baking in the oven for around an hour and a half at 200°C.
- Meanwhile, fry the onions, garlic and chillies over a low-medium heat for about 5-10 minutes, or until the onion starts to become soft and translucent. If using minced beef or lamb, fry in a separate pan until browned.
- Add the tomato, red wine and beans/sweet corn (and Quorn mince if you are using this) to the onion, garlic and chillies, season well, cover and allow to reduce for around 15 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve. (Add the cooked meat to the mixture at this point if you are using minced beef or lamb).
- Once the potatoes are cooked through and crispy on the outside, remove from the oven and slice each potato in half. Scoop out the insides into a separate pan, then return the empty potato skins to the baking tray. It doesn't matter if the skins fall apart a little bit at this stage - it will all work out ok in the end!
- Add a couple of knobs of butter, the cumin and fresh herbs to the scooped-out potato and mash until well blended, then mix in the reserved chilli con carne mixture with a wooden spoon.
- Spoon the resulting mixture back into the potato skins, distributing evenly. You'll have more mixture than you need so you can reserve some of it for later.*
- Top the lot with grated cheddar, then return to the oven for a further 15 minutes or so (or grill for around 5 minutes), until golden-brown and crispy on top.
- Serve two potato halves per guest, with a side salad and a large dollop of sour cream. Sprinkle any remaining fresh herbs on top to garnish. Enjoy!
*My tip for a really tasty meal to use up the leftovers: spoon out even dollops of the chilli and potato mixture onto a baking tray and flatten them out into roughly the size and shape of burgers. Bake on both sides until crispy, then top with cheese and grill until golden brown. Almost as good as the original meal!