My kids love helping in the kitchen and have been making cakes on their own for a while, but we don’t always want to eat cake. It’s also far more useful to cook real food, so at the weekends we’ve been batch cooking something. We then eat it that weekend, once during the week after school, and freeze the rest for later. We make this chilli fairly regularly, whenever stocks run low, and they’ve got quite good at it. We split into two large pots that can go in the oven, and do one with no chilli for the kids as they’re not that keen, although my husband and I are, so we put extra in ours. Both versions taste great though.
The idea is to layer up all the flavours and cook for as long as you can – we go for 5-6 hours on low. I use canned beans and lentils but of course if you’re organized enough to soak them ahead of time you can use dried. I’m usually not. I use a cast iron pot in the oven but you could use a slow cooker.
My favourite ways to eat this is on meat free burgers, with cheese, jalapenos and chilli jam, or wrapped in little gem leaves with guacamole, cheese and jalapenos. But we have it with a baked potato, in a wrap, or just with rice.
You can add more or less of any ingredient, it’s completely flexible based on what you like, or what you have available.
Put the peppers in a hot oven for 30 mins until they blacken, then place in a bowl and cover tightly so the steam helps the skins peel off. Remove and discard the seeds and peel.
Heat the oil in a heavy pan that can go in the oven. Sweat the garlic and onions for 10 mins, thout colouring them until translucent. Add celery, mushrooms and courgettes and cook for 5 mins or so. Add sweet potatoes and your prepped peppers. Cook about 10 mins more.
Add cumin seeds, black pepper, tomato puree, sundried tomato paste, dried tomato powder, marmite, porcini mushrooms (I add the soaking water, but avoid any grit) and Henderson’s relish to the pan. Add your chili flakes if you’re using them.
Add tins of tomatoes and your beans and lentils. Top up with stock, allowing for a lot of evaporation over the cooking time, stir and pop in a cinnamon stick. Put in the oven and leave for as long as you can. Add salt to taste at the end of cooking. Remove cinnamon stick and chuck it away before you serve the chilli.