After a snap poll of Standard Issue staffers, we came to the conclusion everyone has a signature dish they’re willing to brag about. Kitchen improvising turned into a firm favourite in Vix Leyton’s house.
I Make the Best… Tequila chilli pie
Fuller dish description: The more flamboyant cousin of the cottage pie, involving a base of chilli with a cheesy, crunchy sweet potato lid. It has a real contrast of flavours, both sweet and savoury. Plus it’s a nice way to add tequila to your weekday diet in a ‘grown-up’, socially acceptable manner.
When did you realise it was the best? When none of us ever wanted it to end – and when the pictures of it prompted an outpouring of jealousy on Instagram. It was a hell of a hit.
When did you first make it? Everyone in my household had a particularly arduous Monday, and Corona beers and limes had been bought to cheer us up. In much the same way people match wine to food, we matched our dinner to our Coronas.
We christened the day ‘Mexican’t Monday’ in homage to the quote in Once Upon a Time in Mexico: “Are you a MexiCAN or a MexiCAN’T” – on that particular day we Mexi-couldn’t.
We wanted chilli but we are shambolic at cooking rice, and we had a shedload of sweet potatoes to use up, so the tequila chilli pie was born.
How often do you make it? Not as often as I want to because, as with most things I cook, it somehow involves using every single item of cooking equipment in the house and leaves the kitchen looking like a bomb site.
Have you ever tasted anyone else’s version of this, which had you worried? Shockingly, no one else seems to have alighted on this holy trinity of chilli, tequila and smashed up crisps.
Is this the only thing you make well? I am good at sauces of all descriptions but, as per the above, it creates a lot of chaos for the end game. I also do a fine line in beautiful, technicolour jelly shots – the thinking woman’s hen party staple.
500g mince – or some kind of sexy veggie substitute
Oil or Fry Light
1 red onion
1 sweet pepper – red or yellow
½ tin of kidney beans – or more if you just love kidney beans…
Sweet potatoes – enough to make a good inch of mash in your casserole dish
Tortilla chips (of a cheese persuasion)
Chilli powder (the flavour of the chilli comes from cumin – so flex it depending on the spice)
3 fresh garlic cloves
4 tsp paprika
4 tsp cumin
Fresh cherry tomatoes
Lime and salsa
Find Mariachi El Bronx – turn it up loud – if you are new to MEB, I recommend Cell Mates as a starting point.
Heat a pan to medium-high heat. Finely chop the garlic, onions and peppers and fry until the onions are translucent. Remove and set aside, then add mince to the pan and brown all over.
Return the veg to the pan and add the paprika, cumin and chilli powder. Mix thoroughly. Add tomato puree, fresh tomatoes and kidney beans and cook for 10-12 mins.
Add beef stock and reduce heat; leave to simmer uncovered for 45 mins, stirring regularly to ensure nothing sticks.
Add oregano, a liberal splash of tequila – you might want to test it first, to make sure it hasn’t gone off – and a twist of lime, then mix (if you were using this to make chilli and not to make a pie, simmer for a further 10 mins).
While it’s simmering, if you do not have a glamorous assistant who is simultaneously doing this bit, peel your sweet potatoes and pop them in a big pan of water that’s been brought to the boil.
Cook them until they’re fluffy enough to mash and give them a good, firm mashing. When that chore is done, break to dance around the kitchen to mariachi music while you wait; a watched pot doesn’t simmer and the Doritos Mariachi dudes have a whole album for you to enjoy.
When the chilli is ready, spoon it into a casserole dish, layer your mash over the top to form a lid, and then add a liberal sprinkling of crushed tortillas and cheese on top of that, plus as many jalapenos as you think you can handle.
Preheat your oven to 180°C and then bake for about 20 minutes – until your mash and cheese has a nice crispy and melty lid.
Find out what our other contributors make best of all here.
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Vix is a financial PR and ginabler who lives and works in East London. As a result she long ago lost sight of whether riding a unicycle while wearing a monocle is par for the course on a normal day.