The Ultimate Chilli Con Carne

Posted By Kerri


We’ve been using a variation of the same recipe for a long time, it’s a good dish but I always end up thinking it could be improved. Talking with a friend last week about the very same thing led to a huge chilli craving so, after some research, I thought I’d try some new ingredients and a different method.


4 tbsp olive oil
1 large habanero chilli, roasted, deseeded and pulped
4 garlic cloves, roasted and then pulped
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp chipotle chilli powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp smoked paprika
Glass red wine
1 large onion, finely chopped
500g lean minced beef
600ml beef stock
400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato purée
Salt and pepper
Bay leaf
500g mixed beans
1 tsp cocoa powder

I started off by roasting the chilli and garlic in the over for about 30 minutes, on 190 degrees, before leaving them to cool down. Remove the seeds from the chilli and squash together with the garlic (I picked up this tip from Helen, thanks!.

At the same time, I roasted the coriander and cumin in a frying pan on a low heat, for about 10 minutes. Once they had cooled, I ground them up in the mortar and pestle and transferred them to a bowl where I mixed them with the other powdered spices.

While both these things were happening, I was also cooking the beans (soaked overnight) for 20 minutes, softening the onions with some salt and browning the seasoned meat. Lots of multi-tasking and many pots!

Once all the preperation was done, I started to put the dish together. So, I added the garlic and chilli pulp to the softened onions and let it cook together for a couple of minutes. Into this mixture went the powdered spiced which also cooked for a couple of minutes. I deglazed this mixture with some red wine and cooked for, yes, another couple of minutes.

Next, in went the browned meat, followed by the stock, tomatoes, tomato puree, more seasoning, the bay leaf, more seasoning and the beans. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for three hours. After two and a half hours, add the cocoa powder. Cool, refrigerate and serve the next day.


We were both impressed with the way this turned out, it was hot but not so hot that the flavours didn’t all come through. It’s hard to tell exactly what made such a difference, since I’d used both different ingredients and a different method but I’ll definitely stick to this recipe in future. There was a strong, smoky flavour throughout the dish which is something that had been missing previously, adding the cocoa powder just before the end really seemed to help with the richness too. It didn’t add a sweetness which I would have liked, perhaps upping the cinammon would help next time.


May 12th, 2009

13 Comments to 'The Ultimate Chilli Con Carne'

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  1. Pip said,

    Wow! It sounds incredible. I might have to try this next time, but I am quite into the idea of leaving out the tomatoes. Decisions, decisions!

  2. Sylvie said,

    That looks and sounds fantastic. I also always add cocoa or dark chocolate.

    Sylvie’s last blog post..Summer Berry Lemon Drizzle Cake

  3. Jonathan said,

    Looks delicious. I always like a bit of cinamon in my chilli. But not so much it takes over. I’d be interested to see what effect different types of cocoa powder have. Would using Willy’s chocolate make it richer?

    Jonathan’s last blog post..Chilli Cool

  4. Helen said,

    I’m so glad you tried roasting the bonnet first! I think it makes a difference. God I love chilli, as you know…Yours looks delish.

    Helen’s last blog post..The Real Food Festival

  5. Jules said,

    That is one impressive and delicious looking chilli.

    Jules’s last blog post..Cherry Bakewell Biscuits

  6. katie said,

    I’m not usually the biggest fan of home made chilli but yours looks amazing. Thanks for sharing the recipe 🙂

    Katie xox

    katie’s last blog post..Madeleine’s, sweet sweet Madeleines!

  7. Lizzie said,

    Ever since I was told by a Texan that adding beans to chilli is for “poor people or vegetarians” I’ve left them out!

    A bottle of corona instead of red wine works well too.

    Lizzie’s last blog post..Sushi Hiro

  8. Hippolyra said,

    This looks great, fab photo and it is really hard to get good chilli photos.

    When I make bean chilli I blitz half a can of black beans which thicken and make the sauce meaty.

    I have read that star anise of Chinese 5 spice can be a good addition.

  9. Kerri said,

    I know what you mean, Pip, I’m keen to try it that way too. I may just have to make it again soon!

    I used to use chocolate, Sylvie, but can’t be trusted to keep it in the house. It’s much harder to eat cocoa powder straight from the tin than real chocolate!

    Good idea, Jonathan, I shall bear that in mind for next time!

    Thanks, Helen! I think I’ll stick to that way in future, it’s a great tip for other dishes too I think.

    Thanks Jules, and Katie!

    I’ve heard that too Lizzie but I do love the bean! Hadn’t thought of using beer, top tip!

    Thanks, Hipp. I think Lizzie’s mentioned five spice before too. Will think about that for next time.

  10. Mrs Ergül said,

    Those peppers are so cheerful! I really think that colour in food matters!

    I’m glad this worked!

    Mrs Ergül’s last blog post..Vanilla Bean Lemon Straws

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