Chilli con carne is a great meal throughout the year, but the best chilli meal of the year has to be the Bonfire Night Chilli, served after any fireworks have finished. The question always remains though of deciding what to serve with chilli. The larger your gathering, the more chance you’ve got of making everything and just helping yourself to a tiny bit of each. If it’s just you, then you really have to make a choice. So hard.
A chilli con carne can be made on the stovetop in the early evening, but the easiest, cheats, way of making it is to let the slow cooker do all the work – simply tip your ingredients into the slow cooker in the morning and it’ll be ready to serve when you want to eat. Put it on 6-9 hours before you want to eat – this is a great time-saving way of cooking as you might not know what time you’ll be coming home if you’re going out in the evening. Here are a couple of straight forward, crock pot dump recipes for chilli that I use:
The main thing is to make it as work-free and stress-free as possible, yet try to cater for everybody’s appetite and favourites.
So here are some ideas of what to serve with chilli con carne, so you can get down to the serious business of enjoying it, while still managing to cater for everybody’s different requirements … including your own favourites.
- Plain White Rice: Eating chilli for most of the year this is the default “go to” to serve up. Chilli con carne and white rice – I make basmati rice, which is a long grain that keeps its shape well during cooking (it doesn’t go soggy!). You can serve other rice, pilau rice is a cheery yellow colour with added spices, or go “full Mexican” and make a spicy Mexican rice for a bowl full of colour.
- Jacket Potato: On bonfire night this is the easiest side dish to go with chilli. They take up to 2 hours in the oven, so you can put baked potatoes in the oven before you go out, or even cook the potatoes in your slow cooker if you wish. Alternatively, you can microwave baked potatoes “on demand”, one will take about 10 minutes, add 2 minutes cooking time for each additional potato (all rough timings there!). Filling and tasty, you can serve half a potato per person, or a whole jacket potato.
- Tortilla Chips: Nice crispy tortillas in a pile are a great side dish. These are the crispy, triangle shaped type you’d use as a nachos base. Best served as a stack at one edge of the bowl, so simply open the bag and tip them into a big bowl and let people help themselves.
- Garlic Bread: You can make your own using part-baked baguettes (slice them and mix garlic with butter, then put them in the oven to finish cooking). Alternatively, all supermarkets sell packs of garlic bread ready to be heated up. Simply put them into the oven for 15-20 minutes, then serve.
- Chips: Chips are a great side dish for chilli – you can serve the chilli over a pile of chips, or sit it alongside them. Large and chunky chips freshly cooked is the only way to go with this! Chip shop chips are likely to be a bit soggy for the full effect by the time you’ve got them home, so consider some thick Steak cut chips cooked in the oven. The easiest way to make homemade chips is using an Air Fryer – the quickest and best way to cook up hot crispy chips. Air fryers are very commonplace and popular these days, enabling people to fry fresh homemade chips, or even sausages, nuggets and other fried foods easily and safely. There are some very compact models available these days too; ideal for cooking a single portion of chips on demand, or enough for 4+ people! This gadget is on my Wish List, if Santa thinks I’ve been good this year: Air Fryer
- Grated Cheese: I love to see a big pile of grated cheese on top of a chilli. It’s that final flourish that indicates “you’ve got it all now” 🙂 Mine’s usually mature cheddar cheese, but you can use whatever hard cheese you like, or have got. Cheats Tip: You can buy bags of grated cheese at the supermarket if you don’t want to grate your own, the cost is about the same as the cheapest regular cheese, so you’re not paying a premium for convenience.
- Grated Carrot: This is a great crunchy alternative – ideal for those who are watching their weight. Chilli con carne just on a bed of grated carrot is a really colourful bowl of goodness! You can grate carrots with a box grater, or just use a food processor to grate a few carrots if you wish. Personally I use grated carrot in a “good chilli”, cooked with the other ingredients right from the start, so it’s no bother to grate extra carrots at that point and set some aside in a food bag in the fridge until it’s time to serve up.
I hope you enjoy your chilli … personally, I still can’t decide from the above list which I’m going to choose to eat with my chilli – more than one choice is usually good in my book!