Chili Con Carne

Chili and bolognese are two of James’ favourites and if I’m honest I love them too, despite my protests of not really liking beef. I love beef minced and in sauces I guess, as I adore bolognese and lasagne. As such, when struggling to come up with this week’s menu (translation: what the hell are we going to have for dinner this week) before the weekly shop, I was pleased to remember I hadn’t cooked anything with mince in for a while. It also gave me an excuse to try yet another recipe from The Ancestral Table (have I sold it to you yet? Honestly it really is incredible), I halved it as it serves 6, replaced the smoked sausage with bacon lardons and omitted the mayonnaise, sour cream and cheese because I didn’t have any in. It was a beautifully rich chili, without being over spicy and had a depth of flavour I’ve rarely made before, somehow without being complex. I decided to add a dash of liquid smoke too, because I ended up having to buy 4 bottles to make it worth while ordering and therefore wasn’t just going to wait until I’m 80 to use it all up because I only make barbeque sauce annually.

Chili Con CarneIngredients:

  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 4 tsp of ground coriander
  • 1.5 tsp of ground cumin
  • 0.5 tsp of sea salt
  • 0.5 tsp of black pepper
  • 1 tsp of paprika (the recipe calls for half but I love paprika)
  • 0.5 tsp of oregano
  • 0.5 tsp of cayenne pepper
  • 0.5 tsp of red pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 500 g of beef mince (or any mince you like, the book suggests elk or venison)
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 250 g of passata
  • 150 g of bacon lardons (or as many as you like)
  • 1 tbsp of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp of mayonnaise (optional)
  • grated cheddar cheese and sour cream (optional)


  1. In a large sauce pan, melt the butter on medium heat and add the onions. Cook until softened and then add the garlic, spices and bay leaf.
  2. Cook for a further minute and then add the mince, cook until browned, breaking up the chunks as you stir.
  3. Add the tinned tomatoes and passata, reduce the heat and cover. Simmer for an hour.
  4. Brown the bacon in a pan and add to the chili after the one hour simmer.
  5. Stir the bacon in and then simmer uncovered, still on a low heat, for a further hour.
  6. Stir in the cocoa and mayonnaise (if using) and simmer for a further ten minutes.
  7. Season with salt, pepper or cayenne, as desired.
  8. Serve with optional cheese and/or sour cream. James had his chili with rice, I had mine on a bed of spinach, the choice is yours.

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