Chilli – Con Carne 

I love autumn, well I do once the shock of shorter days is over! Slowly it starts to feel cosy, wearing layers, lighting fires, candles and of course big pots of comfort food, I don’t need cold dark nights to light candles that happens throughout the year but the fires and layers start now! I think this is the best time of the year for food, I just love what comes with the colder months. Slow cooked dinners are my ultimate favourite thing, having them simmering in the Aga or low oven for hours freeing up time and less clearing up has to be a good thing! And let’s not forget homemade soups, oh and crumbles ~ delicious. 

Apparently we’re due for a cold snap so what could be better than a big pot of homemade chilli! This recipe is great for days when time is short, it uses a couple of cheats, well I say cheats they are not really cheats they are a couple of little tips that make your life easier! I make two different chilli recipes this one being slightly easier but still just as delicious. I often at least double batch and freeze, it freezes perfectly so it’s silly not to make extra! Unless you have mince beef in the freezer it’s the only fresh ingredient, everything else is from the larder or freezer! I’ve given spice quantities that should give you just the right amount of heat but obviously adjust as you wish. I have mentioned many times we love hot spices here so I can at times be a bit heavy handed! I’ve cooked this back with the quantities given and I’m confident it won’t blow your socks off!! 

This would be great if you have kids a uni because you can easily bulk it out with more pulses and it would go further! The secret is long slow cooking and if you can it’s even better cooked the day before you want it! Feeds a crowd no problem, for many years I made a huge pot New Years Eve left it in the simmering oven for anyone that’s in need of food after a night celebrating! ( so much better than a kebab! )

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how versatile this is because everyone has their own way of eating chilli, but to give you a few pointers I’ll tell you a few of the ways we eat it! Obviously with rice, jacket potato, it’s great with nachos lots of grated cheese and popped in the oven until the cheese has melted, I often top mine with a dollop of Greek yogurt or soured cream, grated cheese, avocado and coriander with a squirt of lime, the list is endless! 

Okay let’s get to it! My couple of little cheats are ready chopped frozen onions and chopped garlic in a jar. The flavour isn’t compromised in the slightest so don’t beat yourself up for having a short cut and let’s face it onions can be a nightmare to chop! It’s not about feeeling bad it’s about feeling smug! Yes I add chocolate and ketchup!! … 

You will need: A large pot that can also go in the oven, you could of course simmer on the hob as you would a ragu, or it works in a slow cooker which is what I used to do before I had an Aga.

  • 2 packets of mince beef 
  • 1 tube of tomato purée 
  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes or whole plum tomatoes I like to use a tin of cherry tomatoes 
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander 
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 4 tbsp ketchup 
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped or equivalent from a jar
  • 2 onions chopped or equivalent frozen
  • 200ml hot water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil for frying the onion and garlic
  • 2-3 tins red kidney beans, I use black beans too sometimes, there really isn’t any set amount or what ones you use this is just a guide.
  • Whatever you want to serve, rice, jacket potato etc…


Heat a splash of olive oil in the pan/pot and heat on a medium heat, then gently fry the onions and garlic until soft.

Turn up the heat and add the mince in batches to brown, don’t add more until it’s got some colour. Also I drain off any oil that’s produced from the mince. Once that’s ready add your cumin, coriander and chilli flakes give it a good stir and cook for a minute.

Now add the tomatoes, tomato purée, ketchup, water and salt and pepper. Give it a good stir then add the chocolate stir that through, now it’s ready to cook on the hob, low oven, slow cooker or in the simmering oven of an Aga. Now, I leave mine for hours but I think the best way to think of it is cooking like you do a ragu. If for any reason you think it has to much liquid turn up the heat to reduce before you add the kidney beans. You can add the drained beans about 20mins before serving, your only warming them through.

That’s it so very easy and fuss free but mostly it’s delicious and a great recipe to adjust to whatever you want to add! Just for the record I’m never without frozen chopped onions! 

Now all you need is, grated cheese, soured cream etc and of course cold beers, family and friends and you have a stress free table full of comfort food!! No one would know you’ve been having a day to yourself! 😉 … Don’t forget make extra, freeze it and you have a great supper for a pj and movie day over the festive holidays! 

As always I love to hear what you think if you try my recipes.


Deb x

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