Turkey Coco Chilli with Chorizo & Borlotti Beans.
The path of a recipe for me is somewhat of a labyrinth. Many a time have I started with the general idea of a recipe and ended up somewhere completely different. From plan to preparation to plate, my recipe will almost never end up the way it began, evolving ingredients, textures and techniques until I land on something I am happy with. I can literally start with the idea for a pasta dish and end up with a cookie. This is the beauty of home cooking and recipe creation. However, no matter how elaborately I think, there is always one dish that stays true to its blueprint no matter how quirky the twist may be and that is the chilli.
I have toyed with a chilli recipe more times than I can count and each new addition or twist will always bring a brand new element or flavour to the dish, however one thing that is consistent is the texture I am trying to achieve. With a chilli, I am always trying to attain that deep, warming chew in a nursery fashion with the weighty bite of both pulse and meat against the tomato base vehicle. It’s a comfort that I find rarely in other foods.
My mother made chillies frequently when I lived at home. She followed a much more traditional outline of construction to the meal adding all the right things at all the right times and while I used to tease her for her chilli reliance, I was secretly never not welcoming to a night of thick, maroon chilli dolloped on top of some rice. She would make batches that could feed an army and would ladle it into little Tupperware containers to freeze so that we could heat them up upon returning from school. The little piggy in me can now admit I would often heat them up and not even bother with the nonsense of rice and eat them straight from the tub with some cheese and bread like a lazy ragu but that’s neither here nor there.
But I, in my Kitchen confidence, have totally thrown the chilli rules to one side and aimed straight for the texture but found my own way there. I wanted to add some smokiness with chorizo however due to the harder nature of its body, felt this can sometimes be too overbearing so I swapped the beef mince for turkey mince, as this is a lot softer to the grain. The coco is also added for a distinct smokiness also – coca is a culinary spice and people forget this and it does bring out the richness in meats. I also decided to add borlotti beans to the mix instead of kidney. Don’t recoil in shock and disgust. It has a beautiful thick skin giving so much body to the mix but once bitten have a smoother and much creamier texture than kidney restoring some much needed balance to a dish that was designed to give your relaxation the same stability.
Slice up a chorizo into pound coins, stack them and cut them down into half-moons. In a deep pan, dry fry the chorizo, stirring regular, so that it releases the smoky oils. Grate in some garlic and give a little turn with the spoon. Add some dried oregano and some black pepper.
Add the turkey mince and start breaking it up with your spoon. Be mindful that it takes a little longer to cook than the beef and it also doesn’t go a really dark colour but rather a pinky grey so don’t cook it forever waiting for it to go the same colour as beef mince because it won’t. Mix together a little chili powder and coco before adding to the pan along with some cumin and a hap handed sprinkle of salt.
Pour in a can of chopped tomatoes before pouring in a drained can of borlotti beans. Don’t be frightened by the dried borlotti bean and its nonsense – you can get them already soaked in cans in a very regular supermarket. Give everything a stir and bring to a boil before dropping to a simmer. Pop a tight fitting lid on the pan and allow to simmer on a low heat for about 20-30 minutes so that all the flavours can intensify.
Like I said, you can do as my mother once did and serve with some plainly boiled rice or do as I did and just attack it with a fork, some bread and a handful of cheese. A part of me so badly wanted to write ‘when I was younger’ but I’d only be lying to myself as you can clearly see from the batch I made above, there was no rice. Just me, a bowl of meat, a handful of cheese and a loaf of bread. This recipe may also be a really off kilter look into my life when nobody is looking. Oh well. Show me a person who says their life is not enriched by meat, bread and cheese and I will show you a liar.