Just saw this on the guardian website, the recipe looks interesting and i might just have to give it a go sometime!
Wendy Richard, star of EastEnders and fixture of British TV entertainment, was laid to rest yesterday. The service at St Marylebone Parish Church will be remembered, partly for a glittering lineup of soap personalities, but also for a great recipe. At the actor’s request, her personal directions for chilli con carne were printed on the order of service.
A recipe is a lovely thing to leave, and chilli is food with no pretensions beyond warmth and hospitality. It’s a big, sprawling, messy dish, to be eaten among friends who aren’t too fussed about the tablecloth. But as befits Albert Square’s uber-matriarch, this is no ordinary chilli.
Wendy’s Chilli con Carne
3lb lean minced beef
4 Schwartz mild chilli
1lb mushrooms – chopped
1 tin sweet pimentos
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp coriander
3 tins red kidney beans
3 chicken bouillon cubes
1lb onions – chopped
4 garlic cloves
¼ bottle tarragon vinegar
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp oregano
3 tins tomatoes
½ bar Meunier’s cooking chocolate (green wrapper)
• Fry onions in little olive oil with crushed garlic.
• Add meat together with all seasonings.
• Add rest of veg, together with made-up chicken stock
(there should be enough to cover).
• Add chocolate and tomato paste.
• Gently simmer for about three hours, stirring occasionally.
• Serve with boiled rice or pasta
• Grated cheese is also a good addition, sprinkled over the top.
• The dish freezes well & gains in strength of flavour.
I Thank You
OK. There may be chilli-heads out there that are going to squeal. So little cumin? Mushrooms? Surely, in Texas they specify Scotch Bonnet and Bird’s Eye chillies. But this recipe obviously isn’t about authenticity of ingredients. It’s about the authenticity of a person.
For a start, it’s bloody huge – the woman who wrote this wants to feed a lot of people. It’s rich and sumptuous, so she cares to feed them well. It’s clearly evolved over the years; mad little touches like tarragon vinegar can only result from time spent happily fine-tuning an old family favourite.
All that chocolate makes it sweet and deep, not scorchingly macho. I love that she was thrifty enough to freeze the leftovers. Best of all I love that, like most brilliant home cooks, she leaves you guessing about something: “4 Schwartz mild chilli”? What does that mean? Pinches? Jars? Either would work, and the mystery is everything.
Will I go and cook Wendy’s chilli? No. A recipe isn’t just a set of instructions for cooking, it’s a personal gift. When someone gives you a recipe, they are not teaching you how to do something, but wanting you to experience something they loved.
Reading this, I know more about Wendy Richard than I did. I can imagine the get-togethers where the chilli was eaten and enjoyed – and, above all, I can feel the creativity and love she put into it. And that’s a beautiful way to remember her.
Woke up to find that a couple of chillis seeds have sprouted just over a week since planting them, hopefully the rest will follow suit,, black tomato seeds have germinated well and peas are also appearing in the conservatory and my cucumbers and toms will need planting on soon