Beef Chilli Nachos

Beef Chilli Nachos by The Fat Foodie

Beef Chilli Nachos by The Fat Foodie

On Saturday night I couldn’t be bothered cooking anything particularly time consuming, so I decided that a plateful of corn nachos covered in a rich beef chilli would do nicely for dinner. These nachos only took half an hour to make, but they resulted in a very satisfying and chilled out TV dinner.

I’ve been following the low FODMAP diet and a couple of things that they strongly advise you to stay away from is onion and garlic because they’re renowned for irritating IBS. To begin with I found this very restrictive because onion and garlic are the base ingredients for so many dishes, but as time has went on I’m discovering that really, you don’t notice when they’re omitted from recipes.

When I decided to make these beef nachos I found myself pausing before starting to cook them and asking myself whether they’d be any good without the usual addition of sliced onion and minced garlic, but upon tasting the beef chilli I can happily confirm that they weren’t missed at all.

I served the beef chilli on top of a bed of crispy corn tortilla chips. I used Morrison’s Savers lightly salted corn tortillas which, along with being very tasty, have the added benefits of being both gluten-free and cost only 46p a bag! I only wish I could have added a healthy dollop of guacamole to my nachos, but that’ll need to wait until I’ve finished my two month FODMAP elimination phase. For now the jalapeños and dairy-free cheese did very nicely.

This simple, but tasty recipe for beef chilli nachos makes a generous plateful of crunchy salted tortilla chips that are covered in a rich, hearty and satisfying beef chilli. It’s a perfect meal for those evenings that require you to cook something that’s low fuss, but delicious.

Ingredients:

450g beef mince (or vegan mince)

2 red peppers (diced)

1 tbsp smoked paprika

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

Salt and pepper

1/2 a bag of plain tortilla chips

Possible toppings: jalapeños/guacamole/fresh chilli/fresh coriander/grated cheese etc.

Method:

Cook your beef mince in a pan (I dry fried mine, but you could add a little oil if you wanted) and once it’s cooked add the red peppers, herbs, spices and tin of chopped tomatoes.

Cook for ten minutes and then taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper as you see fit, but remember that your tortillas chips are salted, so you might not need as much salt as you think.

Put the tortilla chips on each plate and top with a generous helping of beef chilli.

Add any additional toppings and serve.

Beef Chilli Nachos by The Fat Foodie

Beef Chilli Nachos by The Fat Foodie

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Vegan Chilli Con Carne With Baked Tortilla Chips (Serves 6)

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Vegan Chilli Con Carne With Baked Tortilla Chips by The Fat Foodie

For a while now I’ve been hearing about people making their own low-fat and low-salt versions of tortilla chips by cutting tortillas into little triangles and baking them in the oven until they’re crisp and golden. I was making a vegan chilli con carne the other night and because I wasn’t in the mood to serve it with boring old white rice, I decided to make the baked tortilla chips to go with it.

It worked really well, with the corn tortillas making a small mountain of crisp, biscuity baked tortilla chips I could use to scoop up the chilli con carne. The baked tortilla chips were also very good with the salsa and guacamole dips I served alongside the chilli con carne.

I don’t like to keep bags of tortilla chips in the house because they’re not the healthiest of snack and let’s be honest, sometimes once you start munching them it’s hard to stop, so it’s great knowing that should the need arise and I fancy making something that would go well with some tortilla chips I can bake some within 15 mins.

This vegan chilli con carne with baked tortilla chips takes hardly any effort to make, but is very rewarding in the taste department and is fantastic as leftovers the next day because the flavours of the spices have a chance to marry overnight in the fridge. Although you’d normally use kidney beans in a chilli con carne, they’re a high FODMAP food, so I’ve used the much lower FODMAP option of butter beans instead and they’re just as lovely. As you can see in the photo below, I served the chilli con carne and baked tortilla chips with ‘the works’ (hot salsa, jalapeños, guacamole, cucumber and grated dairy-free cheese). I’ll definitely make this again sometime because it’s a great recipe to have on standby for a quick dinner.

Ingredients:

12 corn tortillas

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp asafoetida powder

2 chopped peppers (yellow, orange or red)

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tbsp ground smoked paprika

1 tin of butter beans (drained and well rinsed)

250g vegan mince

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

Method:

Place a large saucepan over a medium heat and put the tbsp of coconut oil in it. Once it’s hot add the spices and chopped peppers and cook for 5 mins.

Add the vegan mince, butter beans and chopped tomatoes and cook for 10 mins.

Taste the chilli con carne and add salt if required.

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas mark 4.

Using a pizza cutter, cut your tortillas into little tortilla-sized triangles, place on a baking tray and bake them in the oven until they’re golden brown and crisp. (I turned my baked tortillas over halfway through so that I could make sure they were really crisp.)

Serve the chilli con carne with the baked tortilla chips, guacamole, salsa, jalepenos, grated cheese and salad.

Vegan Chilli Con Carne With Baked Tortilla Chips

Vegan Chilli Con Carne With Baked Tortilla Chips by The Fat Foodie

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Steak Fajitas with a Side Helping of Science and Guacamole (serves 4)

Steak Fajitas by The Fat Foodie

Steak Fajitas by The Fat Foodie

Some time ago a friend of mine asked me if I’d consider doing a blog post on fajitas, but every time I made chicken fajitas I never felt as though they were interesting enough to feature on my website. However, I came to realise that this was down to two reasons. One, I’m utterly bored to death with eating chicken in fajitas when there are much more interesting options out there instead. And two, I needed to know more about how Mexicans created authentic fajitas (i.e. what meat did they tend to use? How did they marinate it? And what herbs and spices did they use?). This realisation led me into an investigative journey into the chemistry that creates a fantastic fajita.

WARNING! SCIENCE AHEAD! READ ON AT YOUR PERIL!

(But it’s quite interesting so I’d keep reading if I were you…)

The perfect fajita is made up of a number of components which come together to produce a wonderful medley of Mexican flavours: a warmed soft tortilla; juicy, slightly seared around the edges meat which is encrusted in paprika, cumin and chilli; and soft, buttery guacamole that’s sharp, but aromatic, with freshly squeezed lime juice. Bliss.

Although, there’s more to it than just serving the right combination of ingredients for people to cram into a tortilla, the meat’s got to be treated right in the first place in order for it to give its all to the diner’s palate. That’s where the chemistry comes in. Upon investigation, I’ve discovered that the best meat to serve when making fajitas is beef. To be precise, good quality lean skirt steak (also known as flank).

The unique structural fibres of steak enable it to absorb the oils, acids and salts of a marinade much better than chicken or pork ever could and allow it to retain the flavours of the herbs and spices we choose to add, but it’s the important chemical effect of the marinade that leads to the production of a beautifully soft and juicy piece of cooked beef.

The best steak fajita marinade will always contain three elements: oil; acid; and salt. The oil works on three levels: it emulsifies the marinade and allows it to coat the beef efficiently; it dissolves the oil-soluble flavour compounds within the spices, enabling them to be absorbed into the meat; and it also provides a protective layer around the meat when you cook it over a high heat, hopefully helping it to retain its natural moisture. The acid, in the form of fresh lime juice, tenderises the meat and breaks down the connective tissue, leading to a softer and easier to chew mouthful of beef. And lastly, the marinade’s salt content dissolves myosin (a muscle protein) which gives the beef a slacker texture and helps retain its moisture. Also, by using soy sauce instead of plain old salt it introduces glutamate and protease (found naturally in soy sauce) into the marinade which add umami flavours and tenderise the meat further.

I did warn you there’d be science.

In an ideal world I’d marinade the steak fajita strips overnight to really let the flavours be absorbed by the meat, but if you take the notion to make these I think you can get away with an hour’s marinating (that’s what I did, to be honest). And in terms of cooking the meat, cook it fast over a really high heat and try to cook the steak medium to enable the natural juices of the steak to remain.

Serve the steak fajitas with a plethora of delicious accompaniments so that the people at your dining table can build the perfect fajita to suit themselves. Sombreros and stick-on handlebar moustaches are entirely optional though.

Ingredients for the marinade:

500g of skirt steak (cut into strips)

1 heaped tsp paprika

1 heaped tsp smoked paprika

½ tsp celery salt

½ tsp ground cumin

¼ tsp ground chilli

¼ tsp ground black pepper

2 tbsps. soy sauce

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

The juice of 1 lime

Additional ingredients:

A large red pepper (cut into thin slices)

A large yellow pepper (cut into thin slices)

To make a basic guacamole:

1 ½ avocados

The juice of ½ a lime

8 cherry tomatoes (quartered)

¼ tsp fine salt

Method:

Put the steak strips in a large bowl and add all the ingredients into the bowl with it (apart from your guacamole ingredients, obviously). Stir it all thoroughly and leave to marinade.

When you’re happy that your meat’s marinated enough put a griddle pan or a large frying pan over a high heat.

Drain and discard the liquid from the steak marinade before putting the steak and the slices of pepper into the hot pan.

Cook the steak to your preferred liking. Once cooked, put the steak in a serving bowl and cover with foil and let it rest for 5 mins while you make the guacamole.

To make the guacamole:

Half your avocados and remove the stone. Use a spoon to scoop out the avocado flesh and mash it in a bowl before adding the rest of the guacamole ingredients. Mix them all together and place in a serving bowl.

Serve your steak fajitas with warm, soft tortilla wraps, the guacamole, chopped fresh coriander, salsa, crème fraiche or sour cream (or a non-dairy version), re-fried beans, grated cheese (or a non-dairy version), and slices of fresh chilli.

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