Saturday, 11 January 2014

Chilli Con Carne

I really love this recipe for Chilli con Carne. I am not claiming that it is in any way an authentic recipe, but it is spicy, warming with chilli heat, comforting to eat and most important of all it is delicious. It’s the type of dish to revive but not assault your taste buds and it is relatively inexpensive to make. As such, it is the perfect food to eat at this time of the year when the January blues have really set in.

The recipe that I give here is based on an Alistair Hendy recipe which I first came across in his book Home Cook. I have cooked many things from this book which contains many familiar recipes, presented in a no-nonsense, practical way. Alistair presents his recipes in a very reassuring way and it is a book that I would definitely recommend for anyone who wants to cook tasty dishes but lacks confidence in the kitchen. Not all food and recipe writers have this ability, and whilst I like to try something new and challenging and I am confident in adapting and inventing recipes, what most people want are recipes that they can rely on! Whilst Alistair may not be as well-known as Delia Smith, I think that he shares many of the same qualities that she does in the way he writes and how he encourages the reader to get out there and cook with confidence.

This really is tasty and although it does make a large pot of chilli, any left-overs are easily frozen and can be used again.

I like to serve this with plain boiled rice with a simple green salad on the side. I also like to eat it atop a baked potato for a warming lunch or supper dish. It is also great heated, spooned on a large mound of tortilla chips with some added sliced jalapeno peppers. I then top this with some mature cheddar and stick it under a hot grill so the cheese can melt – a lovely dish for sharing or nibbling on when watching the telly on a cold January evening. Whatever way I serve it, I always have some sour cream and some homemade guacamole and cornbread on hand to accompany it.

I am also going to separately post a recipe for the cornbread that I make and I do urge you to try making some. It is so quick and easy to make and if you make it whilst the chilli is simmering away on the hob, it will be ready and still slightly warm from the oven when you are ready to serve the chilli.


2 large onions, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
Vegetable oil for frying
2 tsp ground cumin
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 tblsp dried oregano
1-2 sprigs of fresh thyme
4 bay leaves
1kg good quality minced beef
2 tblsp paprika
3 tsp cayenne pepper
100ml malt vinegar
6 tblsp tomato purée
3 cans of chopped tomatoes
1 tin red kidney beans
250ml red wine


1. Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a heavy saucepan and gently sweat the chopped onions and garlic until they have softened, but do not let them turn brown. Add the cumin, the dried oregano, thyme and the bay leaves and season generously with the salt and freshly ground black pepper. Fry for a minute or so.
2. Add the minced beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon so that there are no large lumps. Continue cooking until the meat is browned all over (you may need to add a little more vegetable oil).
3. In a small bowl, mix the paprika, cayenne pepper, vinegar and tomato purée. Add this to the pan with the browned meat and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring all the time, so that the meat gets coated.
4. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir well. Leave on the hob to cook gently, merely blipping away gently for 2 hours approximately.

Serves 8-10 generously.