In case you don't have the Orange Bible.
500gms dried beans (borlotti, red kidney, what ever - but I'm too lazy - I use 2 cans)
1kg chuck steak, cut in 2cm cubes
2 bay leaves
2 onions, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped (yeah right - pack it in!)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1kg tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped (screw that - canned is fine. Still working out the amount though...2 cans seems ok)
1 1/2 teaspoons freashly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (go easy - it gets hot quick)
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons polenta
Soak beans over night, then drain and rinse. Put beans into an enamelled cast-iron casserole with meat, bay leaves, onion and garlic, and barely cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer and cook until beans are just tender (about 1 1/2 hours).
(Because I use canned, and they're already soft, I cook the meat like this for about an hour, and then tip the beans in for another 20 minutes or so. Works ok. But of course, soaked beans taste better).
Preheat oven to 180. Heat oil in a large frying pan or cast-iron casserole. Stir in tomato, seasonings, and polenta. Simmer for 10 minutes until tomato has collapsed. Tip sauce over meat and beans, stir will, then check and adjust seasonings. Transfer pot to oven and cook for one hour. Serve it as it is - chilli con carne is a complete meal in its own right.
She's right, too, with all that polenta in there.
I added extra polenta once. Don't. The water gets sucked into it, and the consistency is all wrong. Like clag glue.
I go a little bit overboard on the spices, but do be careful, the cayenne is deadly.
I cook it in the oven with the lid off - it turns nice and gloopy then.
This freezes and reheats beautifully. And the meat is always soooooo soft.
Makes for great hiking dinner - reheats the body, and lots of good GIs.