Yes, another slow cooker recipe if you please, but you can always just make this beef, bean and chorizo chilli on the hob if you prefer. Apologies that we’re a bit slow-cooker heavy at the moment, but we’re batch-cooking see and the slow cooker lends itself so well to having food portioned off into foil containers, ready to disappear into the freezer until they’re thrown out fourteen months later. Batch-cooking: it only works if you don’t have a freezer that looks like an Iceland lorry crashed down an embankment. We must be the only couple in Britain whose freezer is 50% Häagen-Dazs, 50% good intentions.
The other reason for this chilli was so that we’d have something warm and comforting to come back to after nipping out last night to watch the fireworks at Hexham. I know I’ve waffled previously at length about firework displays – in short, I thoroughly enjoy the spectacle but not the a) crowds b) thought of wasting so much money and c) did I mention the crowds? And of course, the main problem with Hexham fireworks is that the whoooooosh and squeeeeeeeee of the fireworks is almost drowned out by the braying and neighing of all the posh, chinless lot scrabbling around in their Hunter wellies and desperately unhappy marriages. I’ve never seen so many children dressed like accountants and stable-hands squealing and yelling. Still, the fireworks were really very good, and the hour or so we spent trying to get out of the overflow carpark in a sea of BMWs, Range Rovers and other shitcarriages gave me plenty of time to practice my swearing and make adamantly clear to Paul that we’ll never have a child. To be fair, I think that’s rather a moot point, I can’t envision Paul ever telling me ashen-faced that he’s managed to get someone pregnant. I mean, we’ve been trying for ten years…
Oddly, it’s not the first time this month that I’ve been sliding around in a muddy field. No, for whatever god-knows-reason, we decided to go along to the local car boot sale a week or so ago. I didn’t take much persuasion, but then I never do when it comes to being in a dimly-lit field surrounded by men with their car doors open flashing their wares. My DS3 is possibly the only model out there whose interior lights don’t so much blink on and off as actually strobe. Ah well. We are what we are. No, I rather relished the chance to revisit a bit of my youth, spending many Sundays way-back-when as a boy at the Corbridge car boots. I remember it fondly – lots of colourful board games, piles of NES cartridges, stopping at the mobile hot-dog van for a small saveloy and severe gastroenteritis. I did once find a set of James Herriot books which came in useful 20 years later propping up my broken bed, so that was useful.
We piled into the car at ungodly’o’clock on the Sunday morning (by ungodly, I mean before dusk) and beetled up the dual carriageway, giving my nana’s old house a friendly wave as we chugged past. She was always such a big part of our Sundays that, even now, it feels odd driving through the village where she used to be. Any soft feelings of nostalgia were eventually swapped with mild anger as, upon getting to the general area of the car boot sale, we joined a queue of waiting traffic. I couldn’t believe it. I thought we were the odds ones for going but here we were, part of an eager mass of beige coloured cars, cardigans and fingernails. I touched Paul’s hand and asked if they were giving out free blowjobs and chocolate but nope, these were just folk wanting a ratch about. What had we become?
We were shown to an overflow car-park by an officious looking tit with a poor attitude and dandruff – the exact type of person who you know came a bit when he was given a hi-ves jacket and a clipboard. He told me off for going around the overflow car park in the wrong direction as though I’d killed the second coming of Princess Diana and then scuttled off to harass some poor old biddy in her Fiat Pubis. With heavy hearts, we trooped in.
What’s to say? It was awful as I expected. Look, I know that so many of you will get a lot out of a car boot sale, I really do, but it definitely wasn’t for us. For a start, the absolute fucking tut on display was second to none. I wanted to see if I could find any decent N64 games and, whilst I managed to locate a small cache of them, the owner wanted way more than I’d pay for them on eBay. I tried haggling – I’m not shy – but I would have had more success arguing with the decorating table he had spread his wares on. Someone else seemed to have brought everything from her home that wasn’t fastened down – books (fine), dirty cups (dubious) and various magazines, including last week’s What’s On TV? Why? Who needs that? I’d cheerfully bet my house that there hasn’t been a single instance of someone sitting bolt upright in bed in the dead of night clamouring to read the synopsis of what’s happening in Eastenders a week ago.
The same bewhiskered dolt was also selling a selection of used ashtrays. We’re not, as you might expect, talking tasteful art-deco pieces here, no no, just those awful pub style ashtrays with XXXX on the side, with lots of burns and ash-marks on them. Here’s the thing. If you smoke, you’re going to already have an ashtray, unless you’re a common slattern who puts her ash on the carpet and hey, you laugh, but I know of at least two blood relatives who do this. I fell over in their living room once and came up with my hair looking like Doc Brown from Back to the Future. Returning back to the point, who did she think was going to buy these ashtrays? It’s not like they could be roughly distressed by some twat in a lumberjack shirt who has set about it with a power sander. I find it all very odd. We moved on.
I wish I could say we had at least some success, but nah. Stalls full of unwanted nonsense, committed (at least, they fucking should be) car-booters all scrabbling around and being rude, rubbish fast-food options – we won’t be going back. We did make a purchase, though, in the vain hope that they could at least look good in our games room – a battered box with some Super Mario rollerskates. Great! No, sorry, not great – shit. When we got back to the sealed box that was our car, we realised that they’d clearly come from a house where it was obligatory to smoke forty Capstan Full Strength tabs before dinner, meaning they’re now in our shed gathering dust and wheezing gently. We should have returned them – I was half-tempted to nip back to the old lady’s stall and buy the Rollerskates Family a few ashtrays as a pointed joke – but the clipboard man was looking furiously at us again so we drove away. All in all – a failure. Nothing of interest and a new bit of shite that will clutter up our lovely shed.
Of course, where there’s muck there’s money – perhaps next week Paul and I should load our car with all of our tat (my car, not his: it would be a bit of a shit display if we used his car, given we could only fit a tie-pin and a sachet of coffee into his car) and go and sell it. I couldn’t, though. For a start, I wouldn’t be able to deal with hagglers – I’d take it as the purest insult if someone tried to suggest my slightly-wrong-colour-Le-Creuset cups weren’t worth full price, for example. Then, if we didn’t sell, I’d fall into a deep self-doubt – I thought the giant lava lamp was tasteful – why didn’t Elsie and Eric want it for their caravan? The soft light would really diffuse the harsh blue veins of a swinging party, for example. Ah well.
Right, come on now, let’s do this recipe, eh? Remember, you can make this in the slow cooker (after browning off the meat and veg) (and trust me, I’m not usually a fan of browning my meat) (too far?) or on the hob. Do as you wish, my love. If you’re trying to save syns you could perhaps leave out the chorizo, but why? It adds a lot of taste and warmth. This splits out between four and you can freeze it.
to make beef, bean and chorizo chilli, you’ll need:
- I used half a pack of Sainsbury’s diced chorizo which comes in at 7.5 syns, but you can use any chorizo – as a rough rule, it’s 9 syns for the 75g which you’ll need
- 500g minced beef (make it less than 5% or you’ll fail basic Slimming World 101 and be horse-whipped) (don’t forget you get two whole kilos of syn free mince in our freezer box!)
- two large onions
- one red and one green pepper
- two garlic cloves (you know what’s coming at this point: buy one of these to mince your garlic, and don’t fart about peeling the garlic – just mince on this and the paper will be left behind)
- one big old bugger of a portobello mushroom
- two tins of mixed beans in a chilli sauce (mine are from Sainsbury’s and are syn free)
- one tin of baked beans
- 1.5 tsp of ground cumin
- pinch of hot chilli powder
- 1 tsp of smoked paprika (which goes nicely with the chorizo)
- a pinch of cayenne pepper (don’t shit the bed if you haven’t got this – just use black pepper)
- squirt of tomato puree
- 250ml of beef stock
Now, you can any old extra shite into this chilli, that’s the joy of these things, but if you eat it as it is above, it’ll be less than 2 syns a portion. Nice! For the photo, we served ours with rice (underneath), a few Doritos (7.5 syns per bag, we shared one, so 3.5 syns each) and a dollop of black pepper soft cheese (2 syns for 25g, we used less than that – so 1 syn) – so all in all, if you have it with the toppings, maybe syn the lot at 7 syns. Not bad if you want a treat! Alone, with rice, the chill is wonderful in itself. Anyway, enough guff.
to make beef, bean and chorizo chilli, you should:
- phew, deep breath now
- get yourself a good pan and give it a few squirts of oil
- slice your onion, dice your chorizo, cut up your peppers, mush up your mushroom – put them all into the pan on a medium heat and let the onions soften and the chorizo sweat a bit
- chuck in the mince and the garlic, spices, pepper and leave to cook right through – no pink!
- add the tomato puree, beans and chilli beans and then give everything a good stir with the beef stock
- either leave to simmer nicely for an hour or two, or, much better, decant everything into your slow cooker and leave to cook on low for six hours (we actually went for about ten hours, it did no harm)
Remember, this freezes well, or, kept in the fridge, makes for a lovely topping for a jacket tatty the day after. Enjoy!
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