It may be February and the start (we hope!) of springtime, but in my mind it's still winter. And winter requires hearty, delicious and satisfying cooking.

We all try to start the new year with healthier food choices, especially after an excessively calorific Christmas holiday, but in my experience if you start restricting foods and calories too much, you will end up on the road to binge eating and, ultimately, failure.

So, with that in mind, my new year's resolution was to enjoy my meals. To add foods instead of taking foods away. And to make healthier choices without cutting down on flavour.


One of my husband's favourite chipper menu options is the taco chip. He loves them.

The thing is, if you replace a high-fat, deep-fried chip with spiced, roasted potatoes, you don't really notice the difference, as they're smothered in delicious chilli con carne.

When it comes to the chilli, I like using pork, low-fat beef or turkey mince.

In this recipe, I've used turkey, but you can use whatever mince you like.

You can also omit the meat altogether to make this a vegetarian-friendly meal (just make sure to use some good Irish-grown veggies in there instead).


A taco chip isn't a taco chip without the sauce. I find a good-quality Irish yogurt works really well with these spicy potatoes and the chilli. Sometimes we omit the yogurt and instead drizzle on some sweet chilli sauce - either is delicious, but the yogurt adds calcium and protein to the meal.

For a last added punch of flavour, finely chopped coriander and green onion are the perfect garnishes here.

And you can't forget the cheese! I like to double up; adding grated cheddar to the potatoes before adding the chilli and then another sprinkling of cheese on top.

This is actually the perfect winter meal - so warming, satisfying and, most importantly, you won't feel guilty having seconds!

Homemade taco chip casserole

This homemade taco chip uses roasted rooster potatoes and turkey mince. / Janine

Serves six


For the chips:

6 large rooster potatoes, washed, cut into large chunks and parboiled

1 tbsp Irish rapeseed oil

1 tsp each: ground cumin, chilli powder, garlic powder, black pepper and oregano

1 tbsp salt

For the chilli con carne:

500g turkey, pork or beef mince

1 tbsp Irish rapeseed oil

1 large onion, finely diced

1 large red bell pepper, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 red chilli, minced (optional)

60g pickled jalapenos, finely chopped (optional)

1 tsp each: cumin, chilli powder, oregano, black pepper, paprika

400g tin kidney beans (or black beans), rinsed

400g tin chopped tomatoes

Juice of one lime

500ml hot chicken stock

Salt, to taste

To serve:

200g grated cheddar cheese

60g natural yogurt OR 60g sweet chilli sauce

Fresh coriander, chopped

Green onion, finely chopped


1 Preheat your oven to 190°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2 Once your potatoes are parboiled (boiled for around 10 minutes) and cooled, add them to a mixing bowl. Drizzle over the rapeseed oil and sprinkle on the spices, salt and pepper. Mix well to coat each piece of potato in the spices and oil and then spread the potatoes evenly out on the baking sheet.

3 Make the chilli con carne: in a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil until nearly smoking. Add the onion and red bell pepper; sauté for five minutes. Then, add the mince and sauté until evenly cooked and browned.

4 Add the spices, chilli and garlic; cook for an additional minute. Then, add the chopped pickled jalapenos and rinsed kidney beans. Stir to combine. Add the chopped tomatoes and hot chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, slowly for at least an hour. You want the sauce to reduce and thicken, so the longer you can simmer the chilli, the better. Season to taste with salt and lime juice.

5 Place the potatoes into the preheated oven and roast for 30 to 40 minutes, until browned and crispy. Halfway through the cooking process, use a spatula to flip the potatoes. This will ensure even roasting.

6 To serve, layer the roasted potatoes on the bottom of a warmed bowl or plate, then top with the chilli con carne. Sprinkle a bit more cheese on top before drizzling with yogurt or sweet chili sauce. Sprinkle over plenty of fresh coriander and green onion. Enjoy!