17 | Oct | 11

Richard Johnson

Voodoo Chili

I love chilli. Love it. I just wish I knew how to spell it. My favourite recipe is for a Layover Chili — note the use of a single ‘l’. Please don’t write letters. When Yianni from Meat Wagon agreed to give me the wonderful recipe to feature in Street Food Revolution, I was delighted. And it was Yianni who pointed out that ‘chili’ is the American spelling. Chili has always had a special place in Yianni’s heart – it was the first savoury dish he cooked from start to finish as a child. So when he went to the States, and ate his way round the dozens of regional variations, he was a happy man. “The great thing about cooking chili is that you can really play around with the ingredients and have some fun: Try adding some chopped chipotles for a smoky flavour or use some chopped fresh chili peppers. You can add some tomato puree and replace some of the beef stock with chopped tomatoes if you prefer the sweeter flavour of that particular kind of chili. I call this Layover Chili as it’s made specifically to be served over other things. In Seattle they serve it over burgers, spaghetti, steak, fries – you name it, they’ll put this chili on it. The idea is to end up with a smooth sauce rather than a lumpy stew, hence the slightly unusual cooking technique of boiling the ingredients in the stock without browning them first.” When I agreed to judge at the UK Chilli Stand Off this weekend I felt well qualified to pass comment on the finalists. Although picking an overall winner from Chilango, Leon, the Fat Duck, Lucky Chip and Gizzi Erskine won’t be easy. Especially when the memory of Yianni’s Layover Chili will be with me forever.