Proper Chilli!

Chilli con Carne – its origins are from that pleasurable stable of peasant dishes, I believe they really hold some of the tastiest recipes and when you research the history of food some of the ways people ate, the lowliest pieces of meat, or beans or just bog standard ingredients create some of the best and much loved dishes we all eat in some form today.

Photo taken from
Photo taken from

Chilli relates to the chilli pepper which is rich in history and tales, folklore, medicine, health benefits the list goes one 

Carne relating to Meat in Spanish

The history is that it was a transient food, moving with the workers, prepared in the form of chilli brick ( dried beef, suet, dried chilli peppers and salt beaten into a pulp) , which is then reheated when needed.


I posted some photos on my facebook page of a Chilli dish I was making for dinner, they way I was brought up was a pretty tasteless mince dish with a tin of red kidney beans in it and really uninspiring dish to say the least. The dish I prepare is definitely not fitting any of those descriptions and firstly is the meat used at the core of the dish its Beef Short Rib and Beef Shin

Contention? Looking at the changes from its origin recipe of Chilli, ( some great history can be found from the International Chilli Association) ,its the definitive national dish of Texas, its served with /without beans, its also served with tomatoes or not and it can still be bought in chilli bricks in some American stores!

One thing Im going to try is Mexican Mole I have never cooked or made it, it was a big favourite of one of the mentors Antony Bourdain on The Taste – Mexican versus Texan thats a whole new blog post and debate?

My recipe is a trial and error one based on a selection of cookery books, recipes  and not just one , thorough testing out at home before we got to this version, we are lovers of food and like a warmth to our food but not the “burn your mouth” heat, the bonus of chilli is you add as much heat as you desire.

I make this a day or 2 before Im going to serve it as the flavour really does mature and it just gets better and better, we serve it with either Cauliflower Rice, Fluffy Long Grain Rice, Tortillas, or just in a bowl with yoghurt and fresh coriander. You decide its a great versatile dish and can also be frozen in pots for eating whenever you want.

Chilli DHE style

This will serve a LOT of people I would say about 10-12 with leftovers.


  • Big Pan (that has a lid and can go in your oven)
  • Frying Pan
  • Knives, Chopping Boards


  • 3lbs Beef Shin not diced in onr large or large pieces
  • 3 Short Ribs ( about 2lbs)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 4 tbsps of oil ( I use nut oil )
  • 1l of Stock ( I use  my homemade chicken stock , but you can use any)
  • Red Onions x 1 large or 2 small -roughly chopped
  • 5 x Garlic  cloves chopped finely
  • 2 tsps of freshly chopped ginger
  • 8 sprigs of Lemon Thyme
  • Chilli 2 tsps of dried chilli
  • 2 x red chilli finely diced ( you can add as much or as little as you like ) this gives medium heat
  • 12 sage leaves chopped ( and 5 extra leaves fried with the meat when searing )
  • 25g of grated chocolate ( at a push you can use cocoa powder about 2 Tbsps)
  • 1 espresso shot
selection of beans  photo from readelle
selection of beans
photo from readelle
  • 1 use about a selection of mixed beans 500-750g of beans ; (note Beans either soaked overnight -best quality and result or tinned is fine. You can choose ANY bean you like – I don’t use Kidney beans as I feel that so many other beans have better flavour – Borlotti, Canellini, Flagleot, Black eyed peas, Turtle, Pinto)
  • Tinned Tomatoes x 2 I use Cirio brand as I like them and there quality is consistent

 How to 

  • Turn on your oven to 150
  • Sear the meat, slowly and thoroughly. Season your Meat with plenty of salt and pepper and put each piece in your hot frying pan and sear until brown on ALL sides. This will take about 15 minutes but its worth it and REALLY important to the end dish (when searing your meat I drip on sage leaves and allow to fry and crisp up and put into large pan when done or save and use as dressing)
Sear the meat FULLY , brown on all sides, Take your time its worth it
Sear the meat FULLY , brown on all sides, Take your time its worth it
  • In your large pan put your oil, garlic, ginger, onion, herbs, chilli and cook on a low-medium heat , this is to release as much flavour as possible and not overcook or colour needed after about 5 minutes put in your stock, chocolate, coffee and tomatoes and simmer
  • In the big pan put your seared pieces of meat as they are fully browned
  • Once meat is all seared put a bit of the liquid into the frying pan and lift off all the delicious juices and bits and put into your big pan


  • Pop the whole thing with LID into the oven for an hour


  • Check each hour as your house fills with the delightful aroma- add a little extra water if you think its getting to thick( we like to get it really thick and water down after a day
  • Cook until meat falls apart – about 4 hours. Break up the meat with your fingers or a fork- it will just melt away, remove the short rib bones .
  • Drain your beans and add into the large chilli for another 20 minutes

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Serve that day or leave to cool, put in a tub in your fridge and eat the next day

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