Beef and black bean chilli - Fiesta Mexicana sin Cilantro


My biggest regret in my choice of partner is that he doesn't like coriander. Had I known this when we first met I don't know if I'd said yes to the Corona he offered to get me. I fear the lure of those kind brown eyes would have been somewhat dimmed.

Actually probably not. Those days I had no interest in cooking and for all I knew Coriander could have been an artistic movement.

Husband doesn't just not like it, he hates it. It tastes like soap or medicine to him, so I can't sneak it in anything and boy have I tried.

I can deal with our life with no spinach, rocket and sparkling water (spiky water as the little girl masquerading as my husband calls it). But life without coriander is hard, particularly on a Mexican night. It makes you think of the choices you make in life, doesn't it?

I sometimes buy a bunch of coriander, put some on the table in a bowl and add fresh coriander to my food. But so programmed am I to only buy what husband likes that I didn't think to buy any this time.

Flour tortilla with Lime chicken, quacamole and nachos

Mexican food often takes me back to the first time I ever had it. It was 1997 in California. My very good friend used to live in San Francisco and another very good friend and I visited her and her husband who is a born and bred Californian from San Luis Obisbo.

If I was from San Luis Obisbo I would never leave. But I'm not. I'm from motherfucking Toijala, the most depressing little railway junction ever.

My friend and her husband lived in a funky, pretty apartment in the Pacific Heights area. Even the sound of it, Pacific Heights, ooh I can see the sea,  hear the waves and taste the strawberry margaritas one of which my friend spilled to my other friends new red suede shoes. But girly friendships are even stronger than a girl's love for shoes, which is saying something.

Anyone who's ever been to San Francisco will know that the Mexican food there is just ridiculously good. It's better than Mexican food in Mexico. Not that I've ever been there, I just know these things. Like that Indian food is better in London than in India. I don't need to go to India either to know this.

The Mexican and Southwestern restaurants where everywhere, I still remember one called Left at Albuquerque, I just remember it because of the name, but I think it wasn't one of the really good ones, more of a chain restaurant, still better than any Mexican here in UK. And there was another one. Not sure if we ate there, it was called Yerba Buena. But I remember for the rest of the 3 weeks we used it as a synonym for "very good".

Coriander or not, our Saturday Mexican fiesta was lovely. Husband's kids were here, so like every Saturday when they come, I cooked us a huge meal. This time is was fajitas and tacos, we all filled our own with what we liked. I made chicken strips with lime, lots of pan-fried veg with lime and a beef and black bean chilli. There was guacamole, salsa, shredded cheese, salad greens, sour cream, jalopenos, nachos and a big oven tray of home-made mexican spiced thin oven fries.

Beef and black bean fajitas and lime chicken fajitas

Beef and black bean chilli recipe (serves 4)

700-800g stewing beef cut to strips
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
A couple of dashes of tabasco or minced fresh chilli
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp tomato pure
1/2-1 cup water
400g can of black beans

Cut the beef into strips, add the cumin, paprika, garlic, tabasco, chilli, salt and pepper. Mix well and leave for a few hours in the fridge. Take into room temperature and hour before cooking.

Heat oil in the pan and fry the meat in batches, place in a oven proof dish, add tomato pure and water and cover. Place in a 175C oven for a couple of hours until the water has evaporated and the meat is tender. Stir in the black beans, heat through and check the taste.

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  1. "spiky water as the little girl masquerading as my husband calls it" Haa! Brilliant! :D Ooh there's so many whiney, "I'm not eating that" moments in out house, onions, mushrooms, etc, etc. I still attempt the sneaking all the time though, got him to eat crab the other day and declare that is was well nice after swearing he hated it! :/

    I love coriander and if I haven't got fresh in I have a bag of frozen stuff, comes in very handy :) I love a good Mexican feast and your spread looks great! I will have to force my brother to guest post on my blog, he is a chilli fiend and makes some amazing Mexican stuff, though he does go a bit overboard with the spices!

    Uh, don't talk about holidays and sun, the lack of it here is annoying me now, and I'm just hoping we have a bit of an Indian summer...pft, yeah right! :)

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    2. :) Men, eh!

      Mine doesn't like anything too hot, so I have to have a bottle of Tabasco or some dried chilli flakes at hand for myself at all times. I love chilli, so I'm definitely looking forward to your brother's quest post!

    3. I made your pasta last Friday, Tom was eating it and suddenly exclaimed, this fish isn't cooked! I chucked smoked salmon in at the last minute :D He did eat it, but looked panicked! Haa!
      Oh you'll like the chilli, it is good, but hot! He nearly killed one of his mates with some ridiculous curry he made, he was rolling around on the floor practically crying!

    4. I usually make sure the fish cooks through just because my husband's a bit of a wimp too when it comes to "raw" fish (it's not raw, it's smoked, but anyway:)).

      I like when I can feel the heat of the chillies in my ears.