Recipe: Beef Brisket Chilli

There’s chilli. Then there’s this chilli. Let me tell you how good it is: On the road it would be a red Ferrari, overtaking all the little Peugeot 206’s and the VW Beetles. In the wild it would be the mighty lion, preying on the antelope and showing them who’s boss. If it were featured in a Marks and Spencer’s advert it would be accompanied by graphics of exploding chillies, upbeat classical music and a sexy narrator telling you how delicious it is. And she would be right.

This is my signature dinner and even though it’s not fancy or showy, it is so bloomin’ tasty that I’m proud to serve it to anyone who comes for dinner. The ingredients list looks long but it may well be stuff you already have, and if you do have to buy all the spices they can be used in so many different dishes that it’s worth it anyway. Likewise, it looks like it takes a long time but it’s ridiculously easy and your oven does all the work.

Serves 4

What you need:

For the spice rub:

  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of black pepper

For the chilli:

  • 700g beef brisket joint
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp chipotle chilli paste
  • 1 400g tin red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 600g passata
  • 3 tbsp BBQ sauce
  • ½ tsp sugar

What you do:

  1. Start by mixing all the spices together to make a nice, fragrant blend of flavours. Put half to one side.
  2. Use half of the spice rub to massage into your brisket. If you buy a rolled joint like I usually do then unroll it so you have a long, flat(ish) piece of beef. Really work the spices in to the meat to ensure maximum flavour. If I have time I leave this to rest for a few hours, if I’m more eager for my dinner then I don’t. I can’t say I notice a difference in the end result.
  3. Heat the oil in a large, oven-proof casserole dish then sear the brisket on both sides so that it develops a nice spicy crust. This should only take a couple of minutes. Once seared, remove it to a plate to rest.
  4. Next, add the onion, peppers, garlic and chilli to the pan along with the other half of the spice rub and cook for a couple of minutes until the vegetables start to soften. Once you get to this stage, add the chipotle chilli paste, the tin of kidney beans and the tomato puree and cook for a couple of minutes more. I urge you to get some chipotle chilli paste, it’s an amazing ingredient, full of deep, smoky flavours and an easy way to spice up any dish.
  5. Now add the passata, the BBQ sauce (I’m talking about the kind you have with chips and stuff, just trust me on this) and the sugar, bring to a simmer then add the brisket back to the casserole, burying it beneath the sauce. Put the lid on and place the dish into an oven pre-heated to 150°c and leave it to work its magic for at least three hours. Do check it every now and again and make sure it’s not drying out, you can add a splash of water if it is.
  6. It’s ready when the brisket buckles at the slightest touch from a wooden spoon. Remove the meat, shred it up and put it back into the chilli. Give it a good stir, a little seasoning and serve however you like. I like mine with white rice, tortilla chips, sour cream and cheddar cheese. Leftovers make a great topping for nachos too, tried and tested!

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I love this meal so much. The meat is tender and full of flavour, the vegetables are silky soft and melt into the wonderfully spiced sauce, which has such a depth of flavour and a good kick from the different types of chilli that have been used. I make this a lot and never get bored of eating it.

Washing Up Score: 5/5 – It’s all done in one pot. But it’s a very heavy pot and my delicate little arms (pah!) struggle to carry it to the washing up bowl. The struggle is real.

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