Friday, 10 January 2014

Mass catering - Chilli for 20 - and getting published

Another day, another ridiculous quantity of food to prepare: chilli for 20.

It's for the Scouts (of course) - the Husband is off later today on 'winter camp'. "Rather you than me", I say, (under my breath of course), and plan a distinctly more comfortable weekend. I did, however, agree to cook a chilli for the Scouts to take with them to have this evening once they have arrived and pitched camp (and, hopefully, lit an enormous camp fire. Fingers crossed they are actually prepared, and someone remembers to take some dry wood).

Before I share with you how easy it is to knock up chilli for 20, let's just ponder a moment the fact that the Husband and 2 (I think) of the other leaders are planning to give up a weekend taking 17 kids camping in the middle of January. My hat goes off to them.

 I think the Husband is wonderful anyway (I married him, of course I do) but it takes a special amount of commitment to do the extra for a voluntary organisation like Scouts. This is his last hoorah with the Scout troop he's been involved with for some years. It's a great group of leaders (we're going to miss you so much when we move) - all of them in their late 30s/early 40s with demanding jobs and young families, but they are prepared to give up extra time to run the scout troop here. There are adult helpers too - as I've said before, none of them with any appreciable 'time on their hands', but all busy with families, jobs, studying - who are prepared to give their time to run a thriving active Scout group. 

I think (like all volunteers, in whatever field) the fact that they do this deserves some recognition. So, apart from the fact that I think you are all at least a little but bonkers for even contemplating camping this weekend, here's to the Overton Scout Leaders. I'll be thinking of you this weekend as I sup a glass or 2 of wine at the annual non book club Book Club meeting.

And if they can give up their time doing this, the least I can do is cook them a chilli.

I'm also quite excited because I had a variation of this published in the UK Scouting magazine recently. Get me.

Chilli for 20
Put your enormous pan on the heat...

An enormous pan
1 good slug of sunflower oil
4 onions, peeled & finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled & finely chopped
1 tablespoon each mild chilli powder, ground cumin & ground coriander
2kg beef mince
4 red peppers, deseeded and chopped into chunks
1 kg mushrooms finely chopped (I pulsed them in a food processor - small is good when feeding mushrooms to children, I find)
5 beef stock cubes made up to 1.2 litres
1.6 kg tinned chopped tomatoes
salt & pepper
1.6 kg tinned red kidney beans

Put your enormous pan on the heat, add the sunflower oil and when it's hot, chuck in the chopped onion and garlic, and sweat for 10 minutes or so. 

Add the chilli powder, ground cumin and coriander into the onion, stir well and cook for another couple of minutes. 

Take the pan off the heat.

Heat a frying pan and brown the mince in batches over a relatively high heat. My pan is non-stick so I didn't need any extra oil, but you might want to use a tsp or so of oil for every chunk of mince you brown. AS you brown the mince, add it in to the onions in the enormous pan.

Once all the mince is browned and in with the onions, put the enormous pan back on the heat, add red peppers, mushrooms, the 1.2 litres of stock, the chopped tomatoes and a good grind of black pepper and a couple of good pinches of salt. Bring it all up to a simmer, and cook for 20-30 minutes, then add in the kidney beans and simmer for another 20-30 minutes, checking to see if you need any more liquid.

Tape on the lid and tuck into the back of a minibus ready for eating later on.

Good luck, guys! I'll pray you don't get too much weather.


  1. Great job! I love mass catering - there's always an element of winging it. Particularly when it gets done in tents or random village halls, which it usually the case with the youth expedition group I volunteer with. I also experienced first had 3 weeks of cooking for 45 folk on 2 gas burners in a mess tent in Mongolia - a fair bit warmer than what your husband is enduring this weekend. Hope it stays dry and snow-free for them.

  2. Good for them! hopefully they won't be rained out - the chili sounds fabulous :)
    Mary x

  3. Very impressive indeed! The size of the pan AND the publication!! Well done Mrs! x

  4. Yum! I love peppers in chilli - your version is almost exactly the same as mine (though I have started to add a star anise too, which really intensifies the flavour of the beef, without tasting of liquorice at all) - BUT you have to warn everyone, as it is NOT pleasant to bite straight into it)!

    Hope they all had fun :)

    1. MMM I like the sound of that - I sometimes add a cinammon stick although I forgot about that this time - and the same warnings apply!


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