Food Mains

Good, hearty chili

26 February 2016
Chili con carne maison

I love chili con carne. Love it! I have been making my own for a few years now and I cannot believe that I used to get by on the canned stuff.

A big part of the chili-loving process starts before I even go to the supermarket to buy the ingredients, when I simply decide that it’s time for a big pot of homemade chili. I get all excited at the idea of having a quiet few hours to myself. It can seem strange, but spending time in my flat is a moment I really cherish.

And now for the ingredients! Lean minced meat. Perky purple onions. Bright, bubbly beer. And many other delicious things that you’ll see in the recipe below.

I go home and plonk the biggest pot I have on the stove, drizzle in some olive oil and begin the only hands-on task that this recipe requires: chopping onions, tomatoes and red pepper! That takes about 2 minutes, during which I wait for the oil to heat up before throwing in the onions that make a satisfying sizzling sound.

Then follows more pouring, scooping and « throwing » of various ingredients into my trusty Ikea pot that is definitely starting to look worse for wear after having gone through this treatment so many times. Once the initial prep is done, all you need to do is keep yourself busy while the chili cooks. I love this part: I clean everything up, listen to some music, dip in a spoon for a taste, burn my tongue, drink some ice water, send an email, knit a few rows, open the window to let in some fresh air, have another taste, close the window because I’m feeling cold, sweep the floor, put some fluffy slippers on, have a final taste and switch off the heat, leaving the lid on the pot so it can simmer a little longer. Half an hour and some boiled rice later, I sit down to a big colourful plate of deliciousness that I am proud and happy to have made.

That’s why I love this dish. It tastes of free time and long, peaceful Sunday afternoons.

Chili con carne maison

Chili con carne recipe

For 4 portions (I usually have this as a pick-me-up on a Sunday night and then for lunch at work for the next few days-my colleagues are always jealous!)

This is a very versatile recipe – you can substitute the red beans for white beans, add in some sweetcorn or yellow pepper for some extra colour and sweetness or leave out or replace any number of things. Just go with it, you won’t go wrong! The chili I made for the photos in this article did not contain red peppers and I replaced the red onions with a few shallots instead.


  • 2 red onions
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Powdered garlic
  • 500g of ground beef (5% fat, preferably free range)
  • One 250g can of red beans
  • One 200ml dark beer
  • A 20cl box of tomato purée
  • A heaped tablespoon of instant coffee
  • 2 vegetarian stock cubes
  • 4 heaped tablespoons of brown sugar
  • Tabasco sauce or chili flakes – or both if you think you can handle it!


  1. Plonk a very large pot on the stove and turn to maximum heat.
  2. Add about two tablespoons of olive oil.
  3. Chop onions and let soften in the hot olive oil.
  4. While the onions are softening, chop the tomatoes and pepper.
  5. Throw the veggies into the pot and shake some powdered garlic over the top.
  6. Loosely break up the minced meat.
  7. Turn down the heat to medium, throw in the mince and fry gently until the meat is just slightly pink in the centre.
  8. Throw in the beans (with the juice), tomato purée, instant coffee, beer (after having taken a few glugs for yourself), the sugar and stock cubes. Add about 150ml of hot water. Sprinkle a heaped teaspoon of chili flakes over the top, or add 6 generous dashes of Tabasco sauce instead.
  9. Mix it all up, cover and turn the heat to medium low.
  10. Keep simmering for about 40 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Check on the chili every once in a while and give it a stir to check that the meat doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
  11. Turn off the heat, leave on the stove with the lid on and go about your business until you feel like eating (you won’t last more than 20 minutes, I guarantee it).
  12. Serve with boiled rice, and if you feel like it, a dollop of crème fraiche.

Chili con carne maison

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