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Hetty Lui McKinnon's tin

Jul 22, 2023

During our first days in New York, our family ate at a diner where I ordered a "mushroom chilli".

With no understanding of what "chilli" is in America, I expected to get a spicy mushroom stew. What I was served was a proper chilli: ground beef, in rich tomato sauce, with just a few elusive flecks of mushrooms in the mix. Lesson learned.

Soon enough, we started making chilli at home, but without the meat. At home, our chilli is full of beans.

We usually ate it on cold Sunday nights; a perfect, comforting, hearty pot of goodness to see out our weekend.

The dish is really about pantry cooking — embracing the convenience and economy of tinned beans, tomatoes and pantry spices.

A bean chilli is really the perfect way to create a meal that is nutritious yet crowd-pleasing and, best of all, can be eaten in a number of ways.

It's versatile, and makes a lot, so there will be leftovers that you can freeze or repurpose (read on for ideas).

My favourite way to eat chilli is just to top it with fresh fixings, which can include avocado, fresh and/or pickled jalapenos, coriander leaves, cheese and sour cream.

Use all, just a few, or none — it's really up to you and what you have in your fridge. At the very least, I recommend a squeeze of lime juice and fresh coriander.

Every month, we publish a new recipe from Hetty McKinnon, a food writer and cookbook author with a passion for vegetables. She's the author of five cookbooks, Community, Neighbourhood, Family, To Asia, with Love and Tenderheart. Originally from Sydney, Hetty is currently living with her family in Brooklyn, New York.

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I don't specify the exact types of beans to use in this recipe — the idea is that you use whatever varieties you have in your pantry or can easily get hold of at your local supermarket. One thing to note: do not drain your beans! So many serving suggestions. Use any leftovers to make nachos The chilli improves with age and can be prepped up to three days ahead and kept in the fridge.