Chilli con Jamie

Yesterday I had the absolute pleasure of cooking for a lovely group of school mums on their annual get-together in The Cotswolds.

A dear friend had asked if I’d like to cater for the event, and together we hatched a plan to use this as an opportunity to raise awareness for the Food Revolution and Elizabeth’s Footprint – [Natalia Spencer is walking the entire 6,000 mile coastline of the UK in aid of Bristol Children’s Hospital following the sudden and tragic loss of her beautiful 5-year-old daughter Elizabeth.] 

So, deep breath, what do you cook for fourteen…?

I needed something hearty, a little bit special, and above all something that wouldn’t be a logistical nightmare given Chipping Campden is a 40 minute drive from Cheltenham.

Delectable and transportable; it’s got to be a slow cooked chilli. It just so happens that I recently acquired a cast iron, 12 litre, Staub Cocotte (dutch oven)..

Let’s not reinvent the wheel here – I know a man who’s nailed this dish, so please do check out Jamie’s tried and tested recipe here:

The only tweaks I made were to scale up the quantities to make it go a bit further. I used 3kg of brisket, 5 cans of tomatoes, 750ml fresh coffee and 3 tins of kidney beans etc.

3kg beef brisket

Trimming up the beef takes a little time but once it’s all in the pot you can pretty much sit back and leave it alone for a few hours. If you’re interested, I chose to use a combination of Ancho and Pasilla chillies which were rehydrated in strong coffee.

Ancho and Pasilla chillies

I wrapped a couple of towels around my impractically heavy cast iron pot and carefully stowed my precious cargo in the passenger footwell.

Seeing a rainbow over Chipping Campden as I made my way down the quiet country lanes really made my day. I had to stop the car and take a moment to fully appreciate the world around me, basking in the horizontal early evening sunlight and cherishing every aspect of the quiet, rolling countryside. I wish I could have captured it for you Natalia.

I want to extend a huge, huge thank you to all you lovely ladies for donating a whopping £200 to Elizabeth’s Footprint – I’m so pleased you enjoyed your dinner :o)

Chilli con carne

Elizabeth’s Footprint

Last week my wife and I joined Natalia Spencer on her Walk of Love. We’re linked through St James’ Primary School in Cheltenham. Natalia has given herself an enormous challenge; She’s walking the entire 6,000 mile coastline of the UK…

Since starting back in February, she’s completed over 1,000 miles, walking relentlessly with just one day of rest each week.

She has merely her rucksack, and the kindness of others to support her.

It may sound hard, but to her, it’s nothing compared to dealing with the raw grief of losing her 5-year-old daughter Elizabeth.

I’ve never met a more determined and truly inspirational person in my life. As I struggled to drag my body up the last hill on our 7 hour walk from Pendine to Tenby, she explained that she doesn’t walk with her legs, she walks with her mind.

Natalia is aiming to raise £100,000 for the Bristol Children’s Hospital, who’s doctors battled in vein to save Elizabeth for 18 long days last December. She’s bringing something positive from her loss, and moving forward one step at a time.

I applaud her mighty efforts to help the lives of others, and wish her godspeed on her year-long venture.

Please read her story, follow her progress on Facebook and Twitter, raise awareness and help in any way that you can.

Supporting her in the best way I know how to, we had the pleasure of providing sustenance in the form of a few square meals. We hope to join you again soon Natalia. X


To donate to go or text  ELIF55 £2/£5/£10 to 70070