Nigella Lawson’s cheesy chilli recipe

I can’t count how often I find myself stirring a pan with some mince in it, day to day. Not that this is anything to apologise for: it’s easy, quick and comforting. I could probably measure out my life in chilli bowls, and that’s no bad thing either. This recipe draws again on a favourite time-saving practice of mine, which is to start off with some paprika-piccante chorizo sausages that give off a fiery orange oil in which to sear and season the mince.

Tex-Mex custom decrees that chilli be eaten with – among other embellishments – a handful of grated cheese thrown on top. This is merely an impatient rendering of the same, whereby you simply chop or tear some mozzarella and stir it in to the chilli in the pan, just long enough to let it melt into the meat.

If you’ve got the time, and have managed to think ahead, you could put some baking potatoes into the oven to provide a substantial vessel for the cheesy chilli (it will also make the chilli go further) but I don’t think anyone would argue with a bowl of tortilla chips alongside, or indeed a beautiful loaf of bread, freshly sliced for dunking. All I’d add further would be a crisp green salad, sharply dressed, and a small cup of chopped fresh coriander for all-round anointing.

Serves 6
chorizo 110g (2 sausages), cut into fat coins and halved
beef mince 500g, preferably organic
cocoa powder ½ tsp
dried oregano 1 tsp
sundried tomato paste or tomato puree 1 x 15ml tbsp
chopped tomatoes 1 x 400g tin
water 125ml, swilled from the empty tomato tin
Worcestershire sauce 2 tsp
kidney beans 1 x 400g tin, drained and rinsed
fresh mozzarella balls 2 x 125g, chopped
sea salt flakes and pepper to taste
fresh coriander a handful, chopped, to serve (optional)

Put a smallish cast-iron casserole or heavy-based pan (that comes with a lid) on the heat and add the semi-circles of chunky chorizo, cooking just long enough for them to start giving off a lucent orange oil.

Add the mince, trying to break it up a little with a wooden fork and turn it in the oil to combine with the chorizo.

When the meat has begun to lose its all-over raw colour, sprinkle with the cocoa and oregano, dollop in the paste or puree and give a good stir before adding the tinned tomatoes. Swill the empty tin out with 125ml water, and empty that in turn into the pan, followed by the worcestershire sauce and the drained, rinsed kidney beans, then let it all come to a bubble.

Turn the heat down low, clamp on the lid and let the chilli simmer gently for 20 minutes. I often remove it to a cold dish (for efficient cooling) when it’s cooked, to reheat and eat later.

If you’re moving seamlessly on, remove the lid now, turn up the heat until the chilli starts to bubble with vigour again, then turn off the heat and stir in the mozzarella. Season and serve immediately, sprinkling with coriander, if so desired.

Notes The chilli, without the cheese, can be made 2 days ahead. Cool, cover and refrigerate as quickly as possible. Reheat gently in frying pan or large saucepan until piping hot then add cheese as directed in recipe.

The cooled chilli, without the cheese, can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in fridge and reheat as above.

From Nigella Kitchen by Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus, £30)