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New England Chilli Bowl

I've suggested two ways of cooking this delicious, spicy main meal: you can either cook it in the traditional way in a slow oven, or (if you want to cut down on gas or electricity) it can be done on top of the stove by using a little more liquid.



Start by placing the kidney beans in a saucepan, covering them with plenty of cold water, bringing it up to the boil then turning off the heat and leaving the beans to soak. It's best to start this off before you go to work in the morning or if you work at home they need soaking for at least 2 hours.

When you're ready to cook, bring the beans back to the boil, boil briskly for 10 minutes and then drain them. Meanwhile heat 1½ tablespoons of oil in a medium-sized pan or small flameproof casserole, add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes to soften before turning up the heat and adding the minced beef. Cook this, stirring it round the pan, to colour evenly.

Next crush the cumin seeds and add them to the pan together with the chilli powder. Cook for a minute or so then sprinkle in the flour, stirring it in to soak up the juices. Now stir the tomato purée into 6 fl oz (175 ml) hot water if cooking on top of the stove, or 5 fl oz (150 ml) if cooking in the oven. Gradually add this to the pan, stirring after each addition. When it's all in, add the drained beans, bring up to the boil and cover the pan or casserole.

Now either place it in the centre of the oven (pre-heated to gas mark 2, 300°F (150°C) or else set it on top of the stove to cook at a _gentle_ simmer. Cook for 1 hour (giving it the occasional stir, if on top of the stove) then after that season with salt and pepper and stir in the sliced pepper. Cook for a further half an hour or until the beans are quite tender. Serve with plain rice or mashed potato.


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