Default Stew

[This recipe is under development. That's why it looks like two recipes merged together.]

This recipe is from the old days when my family and I would have regular board game nights with friends each week. In the corner of the kitchen, bubbling away, there'd be a big pot of chilli. In between games, people would help themselves to a ladle or two of the chilli to stick in a taco or tortilla as well as whatever else they wanted to eat with it.

I make this recipe in a slow cooker. I do the prep first thing in the morning. It takes about half an hour. I then leave it cooking all day so that the flavours mix and intensify. The quantities below feed about six people. The base recipe is vegan so it's suitable for pretty much anyone turning up to the game night, but if everyone eats meat then you can follow the additional instructions for a traditional beef chilli.

Ingredients

Method

Roast the peppers if they aren't the sort to come in jars. Set your slow cooker to low to warm it up.

Finely chop the onions, garlic, carrots and celery and fry them in a bit of olive oil until they're soft. If you want this to be like a chilli, add the chilli peppers now.

Chop the roasted red peppers and put them into the onion mixture.

Mix the spices together and coat the vegetables in the spice mixture well.

Add the tomato purée and cook for a minute.

Tip the cans of chopped tomatoes and the onion mixture into the slow cooker.

Crumble the stock cube into the slow cooker.

Don't add water unless the mixture looks really dry because the water will come out as it cooks.

In the frying pan you used for the onion mixture, brown the sausages all over. Remember that the slow cooker can't brown them any more than you do in the pan. Add them to the slow cooker.

Give the whole thing a good stir and cook on low for six hours.

For the final thirty minutes of cooking...

Finely chop the mushrooms, ideally in a food processor so it's really fine, and fry them for five minutes with a bit of black pepper. Add to the slow cooker.

If desired, break up (or grate) all of the dark chocolate into to the slow cooker.

You can also add some fried chillis at this point for a bit more heat.

Drain the cans of beans and tip them into the slow cooker. When they are cooked, the stew is ready.

Accompaniments

If you're making this like a chilli, top with grated cheese or thinly-sliced spring onions, stir in coriander leaves or parsley leaves, or squeeze over some lime juice. Serve with brown rice, jalapeños, avacado slices or guacamole, tortilla chips, salsa, tortillas, or yogurt or sour cream.

If you're making this more like a winter stew, you could have it with rice, potatoes or just some crusty buttered bread. Cheese would work well too. Maybe cheesy jacket potatoes. Sour cream might be nice too.

Experience with variants