In collaboration with Tasty Easy Lamb.
I love a proper, hearty bowl of chilli, me. I also like my chilli to have a rich depth of flavour. It’s pointless to just bung loads of hot chilli powder into a beef mince base and chuck in a tin of red kidney beans, I feel. I want layers of flavour. I want texture. I want warmth without an overpowering heat. I also don’t want to water down these tastes with plain rice – just give me the meat please.
So, let me introduce you to my slow cooker lamb chilli recipe with pasilla peppers.
This recipe was borne after I discovered a packet of dried pasilla peppers in the reduced section of my local supermarket. I’d never heard of these chillies before so I immediately bought them. I love trying new things. Pasilla peppers, dried chilaca peppers, originate in southern Mexico where they grow to 8-10 inches long before they are dried and sold throughout the US, UK and Mexico. With a rich, smoky taste it adds a delicious warming flavour to duck or lamb recipes. With a mild to medium heat it lends itself very well to chilli.
I cook a lot of lamb recipes, so I set to experimenting and I have to say, this resulting slow cooker dish is out of this world!
You might be wondering why I’ve attributed this recipe to being inspired by South American flavours, given that I’ve used a Mexican chilli. Well, for starters, living on a tiny rock in the middle of the North Sea means I don’t have ready access to a wide range of traditional dried South American chillies. The southern part of Mexico was part of Mesoamerica, inhabited by the Mayans way back when, so it’s as close as I could get.
The rest of the dish, however, is inspired by the flavours of South America. Chilli con carne, as we know it, has its origins in Texas, but the South Americans have been eating dishes of meat with beans, tomatoes and chilli back to the times of the Mayans, Incas and Aztecs. The Spanish introduced lamb to the Incas when they explored the area, while cargamanto beans, a native of Columbia, are the grandmother of the borlotti bean as we know them. I’ve used these chubby red beans instead of the usual kidney bean in my recipe, but feel free to use kidney beans if you prefer them.
To finish everything off I’ve added a little bit of dark chocolate to the mixture, an ingredient treasured by the Aztecs and Mayans. I confess that the soured cream and grated mature cheddar toppings are not particularly authentic, but that’s how I like my chilli, served with a few slices of avocado and some tortilla chips.
I even managed to find some blue corn tortilla chips in my supermarket recently, a crop originally grown in South America. Win!
All in all, I have to confess this is one of the best chilli recipes I have ever, ever made. Rich, warming and delicious even the children had seconds (and thirds!). When using a slow cooker I believe in making a big batch and freezing any extras into individual portions, hence my use of a kilo of lamb. Leftovers defrost and reheat very well.
What’s your favourite chilli topping? Let me know in the comments!
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This is a commissioned recipe post for Tasty Easy Lamb, although, as always, all thoughts and opinions expressed are our own. Thank you for supporting the brands who make it possible for me to do what I love – mess up my kitchen and share recipe stories.