Authentic bean-free chilli recipe, made with beef shin and a coffee stock base. The beef is cooked on the bone for a thick sauce enriched with bone marrow.
This traditional bean-free chilli recipe has a complex smoky flavour from the coffee stock base, and a chunky, unctuous texture from slow-cooking the beef on the bone. Cooking meat on the bone in stews adds a rich flavour and thickness to the sauce. As the shin is a lean, weight-bearing part of the animal, it is full of connective tissue that needs to be cooked slowly in order to break down the collagen. Low and slow cooking effectively melts the collagen, and converts it into silky smooth gelatin. This transforms the texture from tough and gristly meat, to a rich and buttery treat that is so tender it melts in the mouth. However, if you cannot get hold of shin, then use diced chuck steak and subtract 1 hour from the cooking time.
- 1.4 kg shin of beef, bone in (will yield approx. 1 kg meat)
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil (I used lard)
- 2 onions (260g), peeled and finely diced
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
- 8 whole bird’s eye chillies (or other small, hot chilli), finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 cup (60ml) red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons (40g) tomato purée
- 400g (1 can) tinned chopped tomatoes
- 500ml freshly-brewed black coffee
- Brown the meat. Remove the beef from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking, so it has time to come up to room temperature. Mix the salt and pepper in a large bowl. Rub the beef all over with the seasoning in the bowl.
- Heat the cooking oil in a heavy-based casserole over a medium-high heat. When a few drops of water sizzle and evaporate upon contact with the pan, add the beef. Sear the beef, turning regularly, until browned all over with a caramelised crust – about 6 minutes. Transfer the browned meat back to the large bowl.
- Fry the onion & aromatics. Add the onion and cook until the onion is lightly brown, stirring occasionally – about 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the garlic and chilli, and fry for another 2 minutes.
- Fry the spices. The spices need to be fried in hot oil to develop their flavour, so add more cooking oil if there is not enough in the casserole. Add the dried spices (cumin, paprika, oregano and bay leaves), and fry for 1 minute.
- Deglaze the pan. Add the red wine vinegar and scrape off any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a spatula. Cook until all the vinegar evaporates – about 3 minutes.
- Simmer the stew. Add the remaining stew ingredients (tomato puree, tinned tomatoes and coffee). Stir until blended, then return the beef to the casserole. The beef should be more-or-less submerged in liquid. Top up with a bit of extra water if this is not the case. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover, and leave to simmer gently for 3 hours. Uncover, and cook for 1 hour more, or until tender and starting to fall off the bone.
- Traditionally, stews are made the day before they are to be eaten. This improves the flavour by allowing the spices to develop and meld together.
- If eating another day: leave to cool overnight in the refrigerator. After several hours chilling, the fat will rise to the top and congeal to form a solid layer on top. When you want to eat the stew, gently scrape off the fat with a metal spoon and discard. Bring to the boil, then follow the instructions below to reduce the sauce.
- if eating straight away: take the pan off the heat, and remove the meat using a slotted spoon. Wait for the oil to separate out and rise to the top. Tilt the pan, then lower in a metal spoon or ladle and scoop up the oil from the sides.
- Reduce the sauce. Remove the beef from the pan using a slotted spoon, and keep warm by covering in a double layer of tin foil. Turn the heat up to high and boil rapidly to reduce the cooking liquid to a thick sauce – about 20-30 minutes. Stir frequently towards the end to stop it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Separate the beef from the bone (it should just slough away). Use two forks to pull apart and shred the beef. Use a skewer to scrape out the bone marrow from inside the bone. Return the shredded meat and bone marrow to the casserole, and mix until evenly coated in sauce. Transfer into a serving dish and serve hot.