Sunday, 18 April 2010

A chilli that will change your life!

No, honestly. Stick with it. Trust me....

I discovered this recipe courtesy of Penny, a lovely lady who writes Penelope's Pantry. It's actually from the Waitrose site. I first made it around Christmas, when it was of course freezing. It sounds an odd combination but my husband is enamoured with the chorizo sausage so I thought it was worth a try. I wasn't prepared for how lovely it turned out. It's just a bit of chopping and plonking everything in a pan, then leaving to cook. That means that even me, one of the messiest cooks going, can get cleaned up before it's ready and there's only one pot dirtied at the end of it. Other reasons I love it include:

  1. It goes with a wide range of accompaniments - bread, baked potatoes, rice, tortilla chips - so it is good for using up what's left in the house. That's what I've done today - I made a last minute decision to make it. You can grate cheese over the top, or add a dollop of soured cream, or even natural yogurt if you want to reduce the fat content.
  2. It is perfect comfort food. Today, I needed cheering up so making it and eating it has certainly lifted my spirits. 
  3. It freezes and reheats well. I often make enough for 4 adults and there's tons left over. Even tonight, when I've effectively made half, there's still some left over but I am fairly sure I won't get to see the leftovers. 
  4. It is also forgiving of slight changes, more of which later. 
If you are dubious about making a "chilli" that doesn't include mince or at least some form of beef, don't be. It's less effort and is done in an hour or so. Waitrose say 1hr15 to 1h30 but I normally have it done in just over the hour. This recipe in your repertoire will also make your life easier because even half a butternut squash will keep in the fridge for several weeks and so does chorizo. So, it's great as a standby to whack on and leave to cook if you want to cook but don't want to be standing there for ages.

If you've never used butternut squash before, take three tips from me for preparing it:

  1. Don't bother peeling it if you are roasting it. 
  2. Peel using a y-shaped peeler along the length of the squash
  3. Slice the squash in half just where it bulges (sorry!) and scoop the seeds out with a spoon before chopping up, much easier. 
Here's the original recipe, courtesy of Waitrose

Chorizo, Bean, Pepper and Butternut Squash Chilli

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
225g Spanish chorizo (from the deli counter), peeled and diced
1 large red chilli, chopped
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp dark brown muscovado sugar
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
1 butternut squash or pumpkin, about 500g peeled weight, deseeded and cut into 3-4cm diced
410g can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
20g pack fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the onion and garlic for 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the chorizo and red chilli, and cook for a further minute until the chorizo releases its red juices.
  2. Add the tomatoes, sugar, pepper and 150ml cold water. Cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in the squash, cover and simmer for a further 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender. Finally, add the cannellini beans, simmer for 5 minutes and stir in the parsley. Serve immediately.

Now, today, as it was a last minute decision to make this and it's Sunday, so there is not a lot in the house. I made a lot of changes.

Firstly, I had NO onions at all. Shock, horror. We survived, that's all I'll say. I also had very little garlic in. The lack of neither ruined the final flavour of the dish.

Next, I rarely bother peeling chorizo as it's such a faff. Never had any complaints so far. They wouldn't dare.

I don't use red chilli. I get complaints if it is too hot. Instead, I use Spanish pimenton pepper which I've got in one of those little square tins. Mine is picante so I have to temper how much I use if I don't want complaints. But it adds to the smoky flavour that the chorizo gives the dish.

I use whatever sugar I have in. As my baking sometimes seems to dictate about 45 different varieties of sugar, it's what is in my cupboard or nowt else. Today, I used soft light brown sugar.

I had no red pepper, nor any flat leaf parsley. I don't like packs of herbs unless I can't avoid them for a start. A touch of parsley at the end does add some freshness to it but you won't really miss it if you don't have it.

Finally, and this is something I have learned through making this a few times, I add the beans much earlier than 5 minutes before the end. I feel the beans need more time to soak up the juices and flavours such as the pimenton. When I have added only 5 minutes before the end, I've felt the beans have felt kinda raw and jarring against everything else that has nicely cooked together. It works for me, that's all I'll say.

The flavour is quite smoky, offset by the sweetness of the butternut squash. I would never use pumpkin for this dish as I feel it's too watery. You don't even need to buy good quality chopped tomatoes for this so a budget brand will do if you're watching the pennies. It's probably worth buying a good chorizo but then, I am a food snob that way - it doesn't have to be a really expensive one, just decent quality so that it doesn't render lots of fat with a nice flavour to impart to the rest of the dish.

Go on, try this. It really will change your life. It won't make you thin, rich or help you fulfill all your ambitions, you'll just be glad you discovered it, and you'll cook it regularly, so much so that I bet chorizo and butternut squashes become a feature of your fridge.


  1. This sounds really nice...aside from butternut squash which I can't stand!! I might try it using something else.

  2. Ooh no, Mrs M. The sweetness is what makes it!


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