A ‘Bowl o’ Red’ with Guacamole

When I was growing up in the late fifties and sixties, family weekday suppers followed a pattern. Monday night was always something made out of the remains of the Sunday roast and we always had fish (usually fried, with home made chips) on Friday. There was always pudding, usually a fruit pie, rice pudding or something like spotted Dick and custard. A roast chicken produced the best leftovers as far as I was concerned; always a chunky soup made by boiling up the carcass with lots of vegetables and sometimes scraps of leftover meat added to a steamed pudding with bacon or leeks. What I dreaded was coming home from school to the smell of curry. At the time a curry house (as they were called then) was rare and the pinnacle of daring was a Vesta curry. I don’t know where my mother’s recipe for curry came from, but it was watery, had sultanas in it and dessicated coconut. Memories of it came flooding back last night, as I faced quite a lot of leftover topside. It had been a superb Sunday night roast, then cold the next night with jacket potatoes and salad but what to do with the rest? It was a cold, grissly night and I wanted hot. Cottage pie, perhaps? Then memories of mum’s curry popped into my head and chili con carne was quick to follow. My ‘proper’ recipe (chile con carne y limon, pg 114-115 in The Trifle Bowl and Other Tales) specifies topside, so I was halfway there. I salvaged enough pink-cooked meat to make a generous chili for two, adding smoked bacon lardons from the freezer instead of diced pork, the dregs of a bottle of red wine, tinned chopped tomatoes from the store cupboard, onion and garlic. The distinctive chili flavour came from scraps of lemon, cumin and dried oregano along with dulce (mild) smoked paprika powder. With a few other odds and ends we ended up with a wonderful Texas-style ‘bowl o’red’ in record time. I served it over cous cous instead of rice and without beans (usually added to make it go further and which I find indigestible) with a garnish of Greek yoghurt instead of soured cream and topping of guacamole. A fantastic Lockdown Supper. My photo shows guacamole and cous cous; not sure why, but my photos of the complete meal were blurred beyond comprehension. Sorry.

Serves 2
Prep: 20 min
Cook: 35 min

150g red onion
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp vegetable oil
100g smoked lardons
300g, approx, roast topside
½ lemon
½ tsp sweet (dulce) smoked paprika powder
½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
scant tbsp flour
glass of red wine
200g tin chopped tomatoes
squirt tomato puree
¼ (quarter) chicken stock cube dissolved in 200ml boiling water
150g Greek-style yoghurt or soured cream

for the cous cous:
squeeze lemon or lime
½ tbsp olive oil
150ml boiling water
100g cous cous

for the guacamole:
2 ripe but firm avocados
1 lime
80g red onion
16 cherry tomatoes, approx 150g
1 red bird’s eye chilli
25g coriander

Halve, peel and chop the onion and garlic. Add 1 tbsp veg oil to a spacious, lidded sauté/frying pan and stir in the onions, lardons and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for about 10 minutes until the onions are sloppy. Meanwhile, dice the topside in sugar lump-size pieces. Dice the lemon, discarding pips into slightly small pieces (keeping the skin). Stir topside into the onions and scatter paprika, cumin and oregano over the top. Stir well, cooking for a couple of minutes then dust the meat with the flour. Stir again until disappeared and then add the wine, stirring thoroughly as it thickens and dries somewhat before adding tomatoes, puree, lemon and stock. Simmer, uncovered, stirring often for 20 minutes or until the sauce is thick. Heat through now or later. Serve over cous cous, top with a spoonful of yoghurt (or soured cream) and guacamole. To make cous cous, pour 150ml boiling water into a bowl, stir in squeeze lemon or lime and ½ tbsp olive oil. Add cous cous in a trickle, stirring with a fork. Leave to hydrate, forking every so often as it dries; it takes about 20 minutes. To make the guacamole, run a sharp knife round the length of the avocados. Twist apart, remove the stone and use a spoon to scoop all the flesh into a bowl. Squeeze the lime over the top. Season with salt and pepper. Mash coarsely whilst stirring to mix. Chop the tomatoes and finely chop the shallot. Finely dice the chilli, discarding seeds. Mix into the avocado. Stir in 2 tbsp chopped coriander. Drape with clingfilm and chill until required.