Chilli con carne

Chilli con carne
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The secret to a good chilli is the last three ingredients in the list – vinegar, sugar and chocolate.The vinegar and sugar give a very faint sweet and sour hint to counter balance the heat in the chilli and the umami in the chocolate works its magic by enhancing the flavours and bringing a deep richness to the sauce.

The amount of chilli I have used gives a medium heat dish but of course that can be adjusted to suit your pain threshold. You can be reasonably flexible with the bulk ingredients using up whatever you have to hand. I like to add sliced mushrooms and supplement some of the beans with sweetcorn as I think the sweetcorn adds an interesting texture.
Butter or cannellini beans work just as well as kidney beans and I rarely serve chilli with rice, just some nice crusty, thickly buttered french bread to mop up the juices.

Serves 4


2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
650 g minced beef
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon chilli powder
85 g tomato puree
225 g fresh tomatoes, skinned and chopped
400 ml beef stock
1 bay leaf
salt to taste
400 g cooked kidney beans
1 ½ teaspoon malt vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
7 g plain chocolate


In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the oil over a moderate heat. Add the onions and garlic and fry gently for 3-4 minutes, until soft.

Add the meat and brown it, stirring from time to time to break up any lumps.

Stir in the cumin, oregano, cayenne and chilli and cook for 1 minute.

Add the tomato puree, tomatoes and stock and mix well. Season with the salt to taste and add the bay leaf.
Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for ¾ hour.

Add the kidney beans and continue to cook, covered, for another 30 minutes. Stir from time to time to prevent it sticking.

Stir in the vinegar, sugar and chocolate and continue to stir until the chocolate has melted.

Discard the bay leaf, check the seasoning and serve.

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