Gardening Magazine

Black Bean Chilli with Corn Tortillas

By Mwillis
I had a sudden urge to use my Tortilla-press again. I haven't used it for far too long!
Black Bean Chilli with Corn Tortillas
I suppose that in certain parts of the world these things are considered very commonplace and boring, but I bet there aren't too many households in the UK that possess one!
Black Bean Chilli with Corn Tortillas
Fortunately we also possess a "tava" (aka "comal") which cooks chapattis and tortillas very effectively.
Black Bean Chilli with Corn Tortillas
My recipe today is anything but authentic Mexican, but it is certainly inspired by the Mexican cuisine. This is "Mexican-style Beef and Black Bean Chilli with Corn Tortillas".

Black Bean Chilli with Corn Tortillas
Ingredients.
For the chilli
250g minced beef
100g Black Beans, soaked overnight in water, then cooked
100g Sweet Corn, tinned or frozen
2 fresh hot chillis, thickly sliced (de-seeded if desired)
3 large Spring Onions, sliced
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon dried Oregano
1 teaspoon hot chilli powder (adjust according to taste)
Half teaspoon ground Cumin
1 liter beef stock
Few drops of Gravy Browning (optional - for extra color only)
Oil for frying - approx. 1 Tbsp
Salt and Pepper to taste
For tortillas (quantities for approx. eight 6-inch tortillas)
100g Fine cornmeal (in the UK also known as Polenta)
100g Plain flour
Pinch of Baking Powder
Water - as required
Method.
Brown the mince in a small quantity of oil
Cook the onions in a small quantity of oil
Put meat, onions, beans, herbs, spices, chillis and stock into a deep, lidded ovenproof dish. Stir well
Add Gravy Browning if using
Add salt and pepper to taste
Cook at 150C for two hours
Add Sweet Corn and stir in well
Black Bean Chilli with Corn Tortillas
Cook for another 15 mins to ensure corn is heated through
Meanwhile, make the tortillas...
Mix cornmeal and flour together
Add Baking Powder (this will make the dough a little lighter)
Add water in very small amounts until possible to form a firm dough
Black Bean Chilli with Corn Tortillas
Form dough into small balls about the size of a golf ball
Black Bean Chilli with Corn Tortillas
Flatten the balls to make discs approx. 6" in diameter (I used my tortilla-press for this). This photo is of one of my first ones. It is a bit ragged, and I'm not proud of it. I did make some better ones!
Black Bean Chilli with Corn Tortillas
You can see that I lined the tortilla-press with a plastic bag to stop it sticking. Something like this is necessary, since the dough is quite soft. I imagine that with proper "Masa harina" the dough would be firmer and easier to work with. Getting the tortilla off the press and onto the comal is the hardest part of the lot.
Anyway: cook each disc separately on the tava / comal or whatever, flipping once to ensure both sides are cooked.
Black Bean Chilli with Corn Tortillas
Some nice brown blistered bits are desirable!
Shortly before serving, I put the Spring Onions into the chilli:
Black Bean Chilli with Corn Tortillas
I also made a salsa with de-seeded tomato, red onion and avocado, with lots of Parsley, to add a cooling element to the meal.
Black Bean Chilli with Corn Tortillas
So here is a serving of the chilli, garnished with "faux Coriander", i.e. flat-leaf Parsley.
Black Bean Chilli with Corn Tortillas
Regular readers will know that I can't eat leaf Coriander, but I think a bit of green garnish does look nice.
Black Bean Chilli with Corn Tortillas
The verdict: the chilli was very nice. Lots of flavor and just the right level of heat. The tortillas on the other hand were too firm (tough!) for my liking. I would have preferred them to be a bit softer. I must get some authentic masa harina, because I expect this is what makes the difference. It is available in the UK from specialist suppliers, but seldom found in a supermarket. It's also hideously expensive here! This dish would of course be equally good served with rice, by the way.

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