This delicious vegetarian bean chilli topped with cornbread dumplings is cheap, cheerful and full of yum.
Let me be clear, anything with dumplings gets my vote. I think I’ve actually used semantic licence calling this cornbread crust “dumplings” but whatever you want to call them, they taste delicious. It’s not the first time I’ve got confused over food names that get lost in translation… Remember that Beef Stew with Muffin Top?
I’m a big fan of bean chillis because beans are nutritionally dense and budget friendly and I’ve covered all my beany bases with my Smoky Bean Chilli, this Slow Cooker Mixed Bean Chilli and this Black Bean Chilli. But this is the first time I’ve topped my chilli off with dumplings. These cornbread dumplings are super easy and very forgiving and turn this dish into a one pan wonder! I like to think of this is as a kind of veggie pie but instead of a pastry top, there’s some delicious cornbread. It’s seriously good.
When I was a student my mum bought me a cookbook called Grub on a Grant which was my kitchen bible throughout university and many years beyond. Even though my uni days were many, many years ago, I still love a budget friendly meal as much now as I did then and this dish is right up my Eat Street. I took this to the Asylum Seekers Centre when I was last lunch ladying and this chilli was a huge hit. The chilli is mild enough for everyone to enjoy and the cornbread dumplings are perfect for mopping up the juices. Some of the clients were really intrigued by the cornbread crust and said they’d never seen or eaten it before but they came up at the end of the meal to tell me how much they had enjoyed it. That made my heart as full as full as their bellies.
Now I’ve used four of my favourite types of beans but feel free to use whatever you like or whatever you have to hand, this dish is uber versatile. It’s also a doddle to make on the stove/oven or in the slow cooker. It’s freezer friendly too. In fact, I froze this in portions and left it for David – perish the thought that he should go hungry while I am away!
What’s your best budget friendly meal? Have you ever tried cornbread?
FOR THE CHILLI
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large brown onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 green capsicum, finely chopped
3-4 teaspoons Mexican spice blend (I like this one)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 cups (375ml) vegetable stock
2 x 400g diced tomatoes
400g canned pinto beans, rinsed and drained
400g canned black beans, rinsed and drained
400g canned borlotti beans, rinsed and drained
400g red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup finely chopped coriander
FOR THE CORNBREAD CRUST
3/4 cup (110g) self-raising flour
3/4 cup (125g) polenta
90g butter, roughly chopped
1 egg, beaten lightly
1/3 cup (40g) cheddar cheese, grated
60g frozen sweetcorn, cooked and drained
2 tablespoons milk, approximately
How to – Traditional
- Heat oil in a large saucepan and fry onion, garlic and capsicum until onions softens. Add Mexican spice and cumin and cook, stirring until fragrant.
- Add undrained tomatoes, stock, beans and tomato paste and bring to the boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for about 15-20 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly.
- Stir in the coriander and season to taste.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200C. Place flour and polenta in medium bowl and run in butter. Stir in egg, cheese and corn and add enough milk to make a soft sticky dough.
- Spoon the bean mixture into a 2 litre pie dish and drop level tablespoons of corn mixture on top of the chilli. Bake uncovered, for about 20 minutes or until the cornbread dumplings are golden brown.
How to -Slow Cooker
- Heat oil in a large saucepan and fry onion, garlic and capsicum until onions softens. Add Mexican spice and cumin and cook, stirring until fragrant. Transfer to slow cooker.
- Add the undrained tomatoes, stock, beans and tomato paste to the slow cooker and cook for 6-8 hours on LOW.
- Stir in the coriander and season to taste.
- To make the cornbread crust, place flour and polenta in medium bowl and run in butter. Stir in egg, cheese and corn and add enough milk to make a soft sticky dough.
- Remove the slow cooker lid and drop level tablespoons of corn mixture on top of the chilli. Replace the lid and cook for about 30-45 minutes until dumplings are cooked through.
To make dumplings in Thermomix, place polenta flour and butter in TM bowl and mix 5 seconds on speed 6 until breadcrumbs. Add rest of ingredients and mix on reverse speed 4 for 5 seconds.
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