Winter Chilli

Why a recipe for chilli? Because I like my food. Because I like to cook. Because the plot of "I'm afraid to fly..." (published in Legend Press's 10 Journeys collection) revolves around this very dish.

Winter Chilli.
A rich tasty, filling chilli with some mole influences. Unlike a true mole however, it doesn't need 100+ ingredients and two days in the kitchen. The secret is in the spices and the chocolate.

1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp ground cinnamon
3 tsp ground coriander
1 onion
6oz diced turkey
1 small butternut squash
1 small sweet potato
2 fresh bird eye chillies
1 tin plum tomatoes
1 tin red kidney beans
1 small glass red wine
2 tsp dried mixed herbs
brown sugar
6 squares dark cooking chocolate
juice of half a lime
salt and pepper
  1. Heat the powdered spices in a dry, non-stick pan over a high heat. You'll know when they're hot enough because the powder will crack like earth in a drought and the room will be filled with a rich, almost curry-ish smell.
  2. Add some oil and the chopped chilis and onion. Reduce the heat a little so as to soften but not burn.
  3. Raise the temperature, add the diced turkey (or your preferred alternative) and seal the meat in the hot oil and spice mixture. (For a veggie version, simply omit the meat. As for the carnivores, just don't tell 'em it's animal-free; it's tasty enough that they probably won't notice.)
  4. Add the diced squash and the (similarly diced but also previously parboiled) sweet potato. Stir well and allow the heat to singe the edges a little.
  5. Chop the tomatoes finely and drain the beans. Add both to the pan and stir well. Reduce the heat so that the mixture simmers gently for about 5 minutes.
  6. Before things go too far, add the red wine and mixed herbs. Stir well. Continue simmering.
  7. Now sprinkle in a heaped teaspoon of brown sugar. Stir well. Continue simmering.
  8. At this stage it's worth testing a piece each of the butternut squash and sweet potato to check they are cooked properly. There should be no resistance to the bite.
  9. Finely chop the chocolate and stir into the chilli with the lime juice. Bend low over the pan and let the smell remind you of chocolate limes, the green boiled sweets from childhood with the chocolate centres. Simmer some more.
  10. The chilli should be a dark reddish-brown colour by now and have a thick, rich consistency. Take a taste and add a little salt and pepper if necessary.
  11. When your tastebudes tell you it's ready, serve with plain corn nachos, rice, tortillas, soured cream, jalapeño chilis and freshly-made guacamole and salsa. Best enjoyed with one of the darker Mexican beers, such as Negra Modelo or Dos Equis Amber but you can drink wine with it if you want to.
Serves two (if you're both reasonably greedy).