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Cornbread-Topped Chili Warms Winter Nights (and Days)

There are few more welcome sights than a big vat of chilli. The cornbread topping is a glorious golden touch, that everyone can crumble into the spiced meat as they eat, for ballast and crunchy contrast. It makes your life easier and the chilli better if you make the meat up in advance, adding the topping and baking the lot just before you serve.


Serves: up to 20



  • 4 onions
  • 4 x 14 ounces cans of diced tomatoes
  • 8 tablespoons tomato ketchup
  • 8 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 x 15 ounces cans of kidney beans (drained)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons dried chiles (or to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 5 cardamom pods (bruised)
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 3¼ pounds ground beef


  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 4 cups cornmeal
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 6 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cups coarsely grated cheddar cheese


  • 4 ripe avocados
  • 4 scallions
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • paprika to dust over
  • 3¾ cups grated cheddar cheese


  1. Peel and finely chop the onions; you might want to use the processor here, and if so, add the peeled garlic or mince it by hand. Heat the oil in a very large pan - it has to take everything later - and fry the onion and garlic until they begin to soften. Add the chilli, coriander, cumin and crushed cardamom pods and stir well.
  2. Deseed and finely dice the red bell peppers, and tip into the spicy onion. Break up the ground beef into the pan and, using a fork, keep turning it to separate it as the meat browns. It's hard to brown quite so much meat, so just do the best you can.
  3. Add the diced tomatoes, kidney beans, ketchup, puree and water, stirring to make a rich red sauce. When the chilli starts to boil, sprinkle over the cocoa and stir it in. Simmer partially covered for 1½ hours. At this point you can cool and freeze the chilli, or just keep it in the fridge - or a cool place - overnight.
  4. Preheat the oven to gas mark 7/425ºF. Tip the chilli into a large, wide dish or keep in the pan that is ovenproof.
  5. Combine the salt, cornmeal, flour, baking powder and cinnamon in a bowl.
  6. Whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, honey and oil in a jug, and then stir into the dry ingredients, mixing to make a vivid yellow batter.
  7. Pour the cornmeal topping over the chilli con carne, or blob it over to cover the top as evenly as possible. Don't worry if some of the chilli seeps through as this won't matter one tiny bit.
  8. Sprinkle the cheese over the top of the cornbread and then bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the cornbread topping is risen and golden and the chilli underneath is bubbling. How long this precisely takes depends on how cold or hot the chilli was when it went into the oven. Since it's such a huge vat, you may find it simpler to reheat it on the stove in its pan, before it gets its topping, to start with.
  9. Let the chilli stand for about 5 minutes once out of the oven before cutting the top into squares or slices to serve with a helping of chilli underneath.
  10. And alongside this chilli, as with the vegetarian chilli overleaf, you should dollop out an un-chillied guacamole, some cool sour cream and a mounded pile of strong grated Cheddar. So, mash the ripe avocados with the finely chopped scallions and add the lime juice and some salt to taste. Stir in most of the chopped coriander and turn into two bowls, sprinkling each with the remaining coriander.
  11. Divide the sour cream into another two bowls, and dust with a little paprika and, into yet another pair of bowls, grate the Cheddar so that people can take clumps and add the tangy cheese to their plates of guacamole and sour-cream splodged chilli.

This recipe is featured in Nigella Lawson's "Feast," Available at Amazon and other bookstores. 


Laurie Colwin's Oven Baked Mustard Chicken

  • YIELD - 4 to 6 servings
  • TIME- About 2 hours 15 minutes

Joshua Bright for The New York Times


  • ¾ cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •  Salt and black pepper
  • 2 cups fine dry unseasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 chickens, 2 to 3 pounds each, quartered, rinsed and dried
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika, or as needed
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine mustard, garlic, thyme, cinnamon, a pinch of salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Place bread crumbs in another large bowl.
  2. Working in batches, coat chicken quarters on all sides with mustard mixture. Shake off excess mustard, then coat completely with bread crumbs. Arrange in a single layer in a large, shallow baking pan.
  3. Dust the chicken with paprika and scatter butter pieces on top. Bake until crust is deep golden brown and crispy, about 2 hours. (Depending on the oven, the size of the pan and the size of the chickens, baking time may be as long as 2 1/2 hours.) Serve hot or at room temperature.

Brine Your Turkey for Best Thanksgiving Ever

Also, always start cooking the bird, breast-side down! (see below)

Editor's Note: I tried this a couple of years ago and it resulted in the most amazing turkey ever. Even the leftovers had far more flavor. It's a little time consuming, but not very difficult. Cooking the turkey breast-side down for most of the time is important, so do not overlook this instruction.


For the turkey:

  • 10 pints 11 fluid ounces (6 liters) water
  • 4 1/4-ounces (125 grams) table salt
  • 3 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 tablespoons allspice berries
  • 4 star anise
  • 2 tablespoons white mustard seeds
  • 7 ounces (200 grams) caster sugar
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 1 (3-inch) piece ginger, cut into 6 slices
  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 4 tablespoons clear honey
  • Handful fresh parsley leaves, optional (only if you've got some parsley hanging around)
  • 1 orange, quartered
  • 1 (9 to 11 1/4-pound) (4 to 5-kg) turkey

For the basting glaze:

  • 2 3/4 ounces (75 grams) butter
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup

For the turkey:


Place the water into your largest cooking pot or bucket/plastic bin and add all the turkey ingredients, stirring to dissolve the salt, sugar, syrup and honey. (Squeeze the juice of the orange quarters into the brine before you chuck in the pieces.)

Untie and remove any string or trussing attached to the turkey, shake it free and add it to the liquid. Add more water if the turkey is not completely submerged. Keep the mixture in a cold place, at or below 40 degrees, even outside overnight or for up 1 or 2 days before you cook it, remembering to take it out of its liquid (and wiping it dry with kitchen-towel) a good 40 or 50 minutes before it has to go into the oven. Turkeys - indeed this is the case for all meat - should be at room temperature before being put in the preheated oven. If you're at all concerned - the cold water in the brine will really chill this bird - then just cook the turkey for longer than its actual weight requires.

For the basting glaze:

Place the butter and syrup into a saucepan and cook over a low heat, while stirring, until the ingredients have melted and combined. 

Brush the turkey with the glaze before roasting, and baste periodically throughout the roasting time.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Put the turkey, breast-side down, in the pan.

Cook the turkey for 30 minutes at this relatively high temperature, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees F and continue cooking, turning the turkey breast-side up and the oven back up to 425 degrees F for the final 15 minutes or so if you want to give a browning boost to the skin. For a 9 to 11-pound turkey, allow 2 1/2 to 3-hours in total. But remember that ovens vary enormously, so just check by piercing the flesh between leg and body with a small sharp knife: when the juices run clear, the turkey is cooked.

Just as it's crucial to let the turkey come to room temperature before it goes in to the oven, so it's important to let it stand out of the oven for a good 20 minutes before you actually carve it.


Red Velvet Cupcakes


Even though I do give instructions below as to how to make these into one big Red Velvet Cake, I like them so much more as cupcakes. Yes, they do use food colouring - and I advise the paste rather than the liquid, as you need less of it to get the requisite ruby hue - but this is one time I don’t let this trouble me. Food colouring pastes can be found in baking supply shops and online, and then you are ready to make a batch of these deliciously pretty babies.

If you want to make this as one big cake then know that the amounts below make enough batter for 2 x 25cm / 10 inch cake tins filled not too deep, and enough icing to squidge them together and decorate the top.


Makes: 24


  • 1⅔ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa (sifted)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 7 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • 1 heaped tablespoon christmas-red paste food coloring
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar


  • 1 pound confectioners' sugar
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • ½ cup soft unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar (or lemon juice)
  • chocolate sprinkles for decoration
  • red sugar for decoration



  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas mark 3/325°F, and line 2 muffin tins with paper cases.
  2. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl.
  3. In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar, beating well, and when you have a soft, pale mixture beat in the food colouring - yes all of it - and the vanilla.
  4. Into this vividly coloured mixture, still beating, add 1 spoonful of the dried ingredients, then 1 egg, followed by some more dried ingredients, then the other egg, followed by the rest of the dried ingredients.
  5. Finally beat in the buttermilk and the vinegar and divide this extraordinary batter between the 24 cases. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes by which time the redcurrant-sorbet-coloured batter will have morphed into a more sombre, but still juicily tinted, sponge - more maroon acrylic than red velvet, to be honest.
  6. Leave them to cool on a wire rack and do not ice with the frosting till absolutely cold.


  1. Put the confectioners' sugar into a processor and whizz to remove lumps.
  2. Add the cream cheese and butter and process to mix. Pour in the cider vinegar (or lemon juice) and process again to make a smooth icing.
  3. Ice each cupcake, using a teaspoon or small spatula.
  4. Decorate with chocolate sprinkles and red sugar, or as desired.


Make ahead note: The cupcakes can be baked 2 days ahead and stored, un-iced, layered with baking parchment in airtight containers. The frosting can be made 1 day ahead: cover with clingfilm and refrigerate; remove from fridge 1-2 hours before needed to allow to come to room temperature then beat briefly before using. Best iced and eaten on same day but iced cupcakes can be kept in fridge in airtight container for up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Freeze note: Un-iced cupcakes can be frozen, layered with baking parchment, in airtight containers for up to 2 months. Defrost for 3-4 hours on a wire rack at room temperature. Frosting can be frozen separately in airtight container for up to 3 months; defrost overnight in fridge then bring to room temperature and beat briefly before use.

More Here


Venison Stew Perfect Recipe for Deer Season

Nigella Lawson’s venison in white wine

Serves 8
For the marinade
dry white wine 1 bottle
olive oil 2 tbsp
bay leaves 2
carrots 2
onion 1 large
celery 2 sticks
garlic 2 cloves, squashed with flat of knife
juniper berries 10, crushed slightly
black peppercorns 10, crushed slightly

For the rest of the stew
venison 3-4 pounds , cut into chunks about 1.5 inches x 3 inches
dried porcini 20g
unsalted butter 3.5 ounces, or goose or duck fat
olive oil a drop
onions 2 large
sugar 1 tbsp
ground cinnamon ½ tsp
ground cloves 1½ tsp
nutmeg ½, grated
sage 3 leaves
flour 3 tbsp
beef or game stock 11 ounces
mushrooms aa ounces, preferably brown cap or chestnut mushrooms
parsley chopped


Put the venison into a bowl and cover with the marinade ingredients. Give a good stir and cover with clingfilm and leave overnight somewhere cool. If the weather’s warm or you just want to stow this away for a few days, then put it to marinate in the fridge, but make sure you take it out and get it back to room temperature before you want to cook it.

When you do, preheat the oven to 300 degrees and, at the same time, cover the porcini with hot water. Then put 3 ounces of the butter and a drop of oil in a large casserole and when it’s melted add the onions, very finely sliced (I use the processor), and cook for about 10-15 minutes or until the onions are soft and translucent. Strain the dried porcini, reserving the water, and then chop them very small. Add these to the onion and give a good stir. Cook gently for another minute or so, stir again, then sprinkle with the sugar. Turn up the heat and caramelise slightly and then add the spices and sage. Tear a piece of kitchen foil about the same measurements as the casserole and place it just above the onions. Turn the heat to low – you may need to use a heat diffuser – and cook for 30-40 minutes, lifting up the foil every now and again to give a gentle prod and stir. You want a brown, sweet mess under there.

Pour the venison into a colander or sieve placed over a pan. Then pick out the marinade ingredients or meat (whichever is easier). Remove half the cooked onion mixture and cover the half still in the pan with the venison. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with the flour, and cover with the rest of the onions. Heat up the marinade liquid in its pan, add the stock and reserved, strained mushroom-soaking liquid, and pour over the venison. If the meat isn’t covered you can add some more wine (though heat it up first) or stock (ditto). Put in the preheated oven, and cook for about 2½ hours or until very tender indeed.

You can now let this cool and keep it in the fridge for 2-3 days. Forty minutes at 350 degrees should be enough to reheat it, but do remember it should be brought back to room temperature first. About 15 minutes before the stew is hot again, wipe the mushrooms, cut them into quarters, melt the remaining 1 ounces of butter in a small frying pan and cook the mushrooms in it, sprinkling with salt and pepper. After about 5 minutes, add them to the stew in the oven. Leave it there to cook for another 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the stew with parsley when you serve it. I always have this with mashed potato and I like sliced green beans with it, too.

I don’t necessarily scale down the quantities if I’m cooking for fewer people since the oniony juices, with or without the leftover meat, make the most fabulous pasta sauce the next day.

From How to Eat by Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus, £20). Click here to order a copy from the Guardian Bookshop for £16.40