Tuesday, 17 December 2013

A Chili Winter Warmer

Chilli con carne
I love cooking chilli con carne. It's a delicious meal that can be made ahead of time, can be used in a variety of other dishes, and even freezes well so can be cooked up in bulk. I know that every person who makes chili has their own trusted recipe, the one they swear by.

I've seen grown men fight over what makes the best chili. Competitions are held to see who can cook up the best chilli. Debates rage on whether a person should use minced beef or steak, beans or no beans, hot enough to make you cry or just the suggestion of spiciness.

This is my recipe. It has evolved over time. Depending on mood I will vary the amount of chilli used, making it milder or hotter. I recently discovered smoked garlic bulbs sold at our local farm shop and grown on the Isle of Wight. This, combined with smoked bacon gives my chilli a gorgeous smoky flavour.

A squeeze of lime juice and a bit of chopped coriander at the end just lifts the whole dish up. Why not give it a try for yourself. 

Nan's Chilli Recipe

  • Serves: 4 - 6
  • Prep Time:
  • Total Time:


  • 2 slices smoked bacon cut into strips
    Cooking down onions
  • 2 large onions chopped
  • 1 large bell pepper seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves smoked garlic crushed and minced
  • 2 green or red jalapeno chillies deseeded and chopped
  • (optional) 2 large carrots diced
  • (optional) 2 stalks celery diced
  • 1 pound minced beef or equal amount of thinly sliced braising steak
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste (double concentrate puree)
  • 1 beef stock cube
  •  2 heaped teaspoons (the spoon you use to stir tea) ground cumin
  • 1 scant teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/8 - 1/2 teaspoon dried chipotle chilli
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tin kidney beans in a chilli sauce (if you can't get this use 2 tins kidney beans)
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 - 1 tin water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • handful coriander (cilantro) leaves


  1. Slowly brown off the bacon in a heavy bottomed pot until it is crispy. Add the onions, peppers, and garlic, and carrots and celery if using, and sauté until soft and slightly browned. Remove to a bowl.
  2. Bring the fat in the pot back up to heat and add the meat. Cook until browned. Add in the tomato paste and stock cube. Stir fry for about 30 seconds. Add in the spices. Continue to stir another minute. Add in the tomatoes and beans. Add the cooked onion mix back to the pot. Add in the brown sugar and enough water to just cover the mix.
  3. Stir. Bring back up to the boil. Reduce heat and cover. Let it cook for about 30 - 45 minutes, stirring every 5 - 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning after 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Just before swerving, stir in the juice of 1/2 a lime and a handful of chopped coriander leaves.

Different Ways to Eat Chilli

Result of batch cooking chilli con carne
When I make up a big pot of chili, I know that I have several different ways I can serve it.

It can be eaten as a soup, with slices of buttered bread.

It can be wrapped up in a tortilla and served up with salsa, guacamole, and soured cream.

I can even cook up a batch of penne pasta and mix the two to make a simple meal.

I can ladle it into individal portion tubs and freeze it for later use.

What's your favourite way to eat chili?