Nigella Lawson's Unexpected Addition For The Best Chilli Con Carne

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If there’s one thing TV legend Nigella Lawson understands, it’s the power of a secret ingredient to transform an otherwise ordinary dish.

First, we found out that she puts condensed milk in her mac ‘n’ cheese. Then, came the news that she adds banana peels to her curry (yes, really).

And now comes the news that no chilli con carne is complete for Nigella without the addition of a cornbread topping.

Come again?

Yep ― everyone’s favorite “microwave” pronouncer adds the American staple to the top of her spicy stew.

And she makes a strong case for the addition, to be fair.

“The cornbread topping is a glorious golden touch, that everyone can crumble into the spiced meat as they eat, for ballast and crunchy contrast,” she says on her site.

Now that I think about it, it’s not all that different ― philosophically speaking ― from a cottage or shepherd’s pie. It’s even slightly reminiscent of nachos.

Plus, it’s not like you need to make the cornbread and the chilli at once. “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,” Nigella sagely warns.

So... how do I do that, then?

After you’ve made her pretty straightforward chilli recipe (which, of course, includes cocoa), you can let it cool for a while before whipping up the topping.

You can even let it sit in the fridge overnight or freeze it, Nigella says.

Then, mix cornmeal with buttermilk, eggs, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, honey, and oil for a tasty cornbread mix (it’s no-knead).

Once this is on top of the chilli, Nigella advises sprinkling some Cheddar on top and “bak[ing] in the oven for 30 minutes or until the cornbread topping is risen and golden and the chilli underneath is bubbling.”

“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,” she adds.

Look, anything the creator of the best olive oil cake recipe I’ve tried has to say is worth listening to, IMO.