Recipe No.1: Chilli Con Carne

Updated: Nov 28, 2019

Cost: Low
Time: Medium
Difficulty: Low
Deliciousness: Big Time Delicious

Number of Portions: 4

Cost per Portion: £0.90.

Total cooking time: Up to 3 hr.

Hands-on cooking time: 15 minutes.


500g Mince Beef (the fattier the better - don't worry we will strain off the extra fat after cooking the beef so it's just for flavour);

1 onion

1 red pepper

3 garlic gloves

1 - 3 small red English chilli pepper (1 for a little kick, 3 for a sucker punch)

400g canned tomatoes (diced for the smoothest texture, plum for the least smooth)

400g Canned Kidney beans

2 stock cube (beef, chicken or pork - or if you have it, some homemade stock)

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp thyme

1 tsp sugar


1. Do your prep.

Get your beef out of the fridge and let it warm to room temp - season it heavily with salt (think steak). Cut your vegetables, I go for a fine dice on all of mine to make a smoother texture. Make sure you cut your onion and pepper to roughly the same size, and your garlic and chilli pepper to roughly the same size. To make it super easy, put your cut onions and pepper in one bowl, and your garlic and chilli's in another.

2. Cook your meat.

Heat up your Cast Iron Pot on a medium heat, should take 3 minutes or so. Pour in a generous amount of olive oil, so that the entire bottom of the pot is covered. (Don't worry this won't stay in the Chilli). Put your meat in, it should sizzle but not explode. Break up any chunks quickly and then let it sit, don't move it around too much otherwise you'll end up with stewed meat rather than fried meat. Keep it cooking until there is no pink meat.

3. Remove the meat.

Scoop out the meat and put in a bowl and cover lightly with tinfoil.

4. Put excess oil into a pot.

There needs to be just enough to coat the bottom of the pot at this stage so pour some out into a glass sealed pot or mason jar (make sure you keep that pot, it's now delicious beef oil to use in other recipes).

5. Re-heat the cast iron pot.

After all that faffing it's likely the pots lost some heat, leave on the hob at medium for a couple minutes before throwing in the onion and pepper.

6. Cooking the onion and pepper.

Now this step depends on what you like. If you want just cooked and a nice soft texture, cook for about 5 minutes, if you want charred cook for 10.

7. Cooking the garlic and chilli pepper.

Now your big vegetables are done cooking throw in the chilli and garlic. To avoid overcooking, put the hob down to Medium-Low for 5 minutes. In this time, add your paprika and your cumin (don't go too heavy on the cumin, no more than 1 tsp, it's a very strong flavour).

8. Re-add the meat.

Put the meat back in, and any juices in the bowl.

9. Make the stock.

Boil your kettle and pour 600ml of boiling water into a jug with the stock cubes, stir until consistent and then add to the pot. Keep the hob on low whilst doing this.

10. Add the tomatoes, thyme, sugar, salt and pepper.

Make sure you stir well.

11. Bring to a boil with the lid off.

Turn the heat to medium, and allow the mixture to come to a boil. Stir every now and then.

12. Simmer with the lid on.

The time that you simmer for is based on your preference for consistency. You can simmer from anywhere between 20 minutes and 3 hours, it depends what consistency you want. I like mine to be thick so I tend to simmer for a few hours, just check on it every 30 minutes or so and give it a stir and a taste test. Add more salt, pepper or sugar if you feel its missing something.

13. Add the kidney beans

Rinse off the kidney beans in lukewarm water before putting them in the pot. Turn the heat up to medium and bring to a boil again. If it looks too dry, add some more water. Then simmer for another 20 minutes on low.

14. Take off the heat and leave to sit.

Allow it to sit for 5 to 10 minutes, the consistency will really go fantastic. Toast some pitta breads, get some rice (use a rice cooker - so easy), grate some cheese - get whatever you like having with your chilli.

15. Eat

You deserve it.

(For all the chilli that you don't eat, freeze it, it's incredibly freezer friendly, aim to eat it within a few weeks and allow it to defrost in the fridge over night for maximum flavour).

Let me know how you get on.

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