O Carnaval - Uma festa da bossa nova no paladar

When Marimba Rhythms start to play, a bolero mambo is the order of the day.
It is therefore no coincidence that in Portugal, in February or March, we find a celebration of life, a celebration of the reawakening and fertility of the earth after the short, dark, damp winter days; we find this within the feast of music, revelry and dance that is Carnaval.
Fancy a foray to the south? Take a dose of Algarvian sunshine, add a good pinch of political satire, a splash of colour, copious helpings of music, and substantial servings of samba, salsiccia and sangria; the resulting party atmosphere that pervades ensures that Carnaval in the Algarve provides pleasure year on year.Sustenance is needed to keep a good stamina going for the party. What better way to celebrate than with a chilli con carne,but not just the classic con carne, this is a take on the original using braised to the point of falling apart chunks of beef rather than mince,which is what most people would expect.The benefit is that there´s more flavour in bigger pieces,and if we all had more time in the world I´m sure more people would dance our way down this road. It gives you more control about which bit of the animal is used too,which is a good thing.Apart from that party on your patio,this is the usual bossa nova party on the your palate that its supposed to be.It provides that same breathtaking buzz that is Brazilian carnaval.The quantity is enough to satisfy the appetites of four hungry gringos or just two with leftovers for the ultimate baked poatato topping,Oh yes!!!
Chilli con carne with a slight difference
1 heaped tsp dried chilli flakes 2½ tsps ground cumin
2 tsps dried oregano
1 tsp cinnamon
5 sprigs of thyme, tied together with string
5 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
500g braising beef, chuck works well, roughly chopped into 4cm chunks
3 tbsp olive oil
1 heaped tsp cumin seeds
1 heaped tsp coriander seeds
Half a red chilli (or more if you like it hot), thinly sliced
2 Spanish onions, cut into large dice
2 carrots, cut into small dice
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
2 x 400g tins of kidney beans,I used haricot beans,drained (If using dried beans, soak about 200g overnight in cold water and add at the same point in the recipe as the tinned ones.)
One small red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup seville orange juice
or juice of 1 lime
Put the dried chilli, ground cumin, oregano, cinnamon, thyme and half the garlic into a dish and add the beef. Turn the meat to coat and leave in the fridge to marinate for a few hours - overnight if possible.
Heat the olive oil in a deep stew pot over a medium heat and gently fry the cumin and coriander seeds for a few minutes until you start to smell them.
Whack up the heat, stir in the beef with the thyme and fry on all sides, picking up a good brown colour. Add some salt, the fresh chilli, remaining garlic, Spanish onions and carrots and keep stirring until the onions are transparent and the carrots soft - about 15-20 minutes.
Tip in the chopped tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes before the kidney beans join in the fun.Pour in water just to cover, and simmer for an hour with
the lid on. Then take the lid off and simmer for up to an hour more, until the meat is very tender and the whole lot has become quite thickened.

In a little bowl squeeze the orange or lime juice over the thinly sliced red onion; turn the onions over with a spoon a few times, then leave to macerate for half an hour.
Finish by adding a good pinch of ground cumin to the chilli to give fresh flavour to the slow-cook. Lastly check the seasoning and consistency - if it looks a little dry, just slowly stir in water until it is pleasingly loose.
Have all the necessaries on hand: sour cream, cheddar cheese, wedges of lime and a New Orleans jazz band.


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