This is basically a chilli with cornbread on top. Cooked together – what’s not to like?? You make your chilli first, then mix the topping and bake it like a shepherd’s pie.  For four portions:

  • 1 onion chopped
  • dash of oil (rapeseed preferably)

Gently fry until soft

  • 2 garlic cloves crushed and chopped

Add to the pan and fry briefly

  • 450g lean minced beef

Add to the pan and stir about. Fry until coloured (no pink)

  • 2 x 400g cans chopped tomato
  • 2 x 400g cans chilli beans (or regular red kidney beans plus 1 tsp hot chilli powder)
  • 250ml beef stock

Here’s a general tip, if you are adding tinned tomatoes followed by stock, use the stock to swill out the tin so nothing is wasted.  Season the mix and simmer for 30 minutes. Meanwhile make the topping.

Preheat the oven to 180C

  • 150g cornmeal or fine polenta flour
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Mix in a bowl

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 300ml buttermilk (or plain yoghurt mixed with milk at a pinch)

Mix in a jug. Then pour into the flour mix, and mix to a runny batter. It needs to be “thickly pourable” if that is any guide. Not too runny, but it needs to move.

When your chilli mix looks cooked, it needs to be still liquidy, with liquid to the top of the meat/beans, not drying out and lumpy. If it isn’t wet enough, add some water and stir about. This is because the cornbread will suck up moisture and you don’t want a dry pie do you? Check the seasoning – if it’s not spicy enough consider adding some chopped jalapenos or minced chillies.

Now find a suitable oven-proof tin or casserole dish and put the chilli in. Now carefully cover the top of the chilli mix with your cornbread mix. This is why you want it runny enough to cover the surface. Now bake for 35-40  minutes. It’s probably worth a check after 25, because you want to top browned not blackened. If it is still looking pale stick a skewer in the topping. If it comes out dry it is cooked. If it comes out with batter on it needs more time. If it comes out covered in chilli you stuck it in too far.

This needs the traditional accompaniments of cold beer, soured cream, maybe avacado, chopped tomato, shredded lettuce, grated cheese and more jalapenos. This is an Ainsley Herriot recipe and he just said salad. That’s a missed opportunity in my opinion.