Chili Con Carne

Chili Con Carne, in a thick tomato sauce with red kidney beans and a side of baked white fleshed sweet potato or rice

Okay, this is not an authentic Chili con Carne – not by a long shot. Rather, it’s what my taste buds want on cooler days. It’s crammed full of flavour with lots of cumin seeds, oregano, smoked paprika and a thick, luscious tomato sauce. Oh, and plump red kidney beans.

Chili Con Carne, in a thick tomato sauce with red kidney beans and a side of baked white fleshed sweet potato or rice


  • oil
  • 200g (7.05 oz) onions, peeled and chopped
  • 1 x 250g (8.81 oz) pack lean minced/ground beef
  • 3 x salad tomatoes, washed and cut in half
  • 1 x 420g (14.8 oz) can red kidney beans, thoroughly rinsed
  • 1 x tablespoon cumin seeds, dry roasted and freshly ground
  • 1 x 400g (14.1 oz) can peeled plum tomatoes, in tomato sauce
  • 2 x tablespoons tomato purée
  • 1 x green finger chilli (Scoville rating: 50,000), washed and kept whole (or split in half for more heat)
  • 1/2 x organic very low salt vegetable stock cube
  • up to 200ml (0.422675 pt US Liq) cold water (use half first to dissolve the vegetable stock cube)
  • 1 x large dried bay leaf, split in half
  • 1/2 x tablespoon dried oregano, more to personal taste
  • 3 – 4 x medium garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 x teaspoon smoked paprika, more to personal taste
  • about 200g (7.05 oz) x white fleshed sweet potato per person, scrubbed and cut in half (for baking)
  • long grain rice, 50g (1.76 oz) per person, boiled to pack’s instructions

Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.


  • Prep the onions and add them, along with half a bay leaf, to a heavy-based saucepan at electric heat No 2 (out of 6) with a little oil. If using a thin based pan then put them on low heat only. Allow to cook for 20 minutes, stirring through the occasional time to prevent them from sticking.
  • Put a large heavy-based saucepan on heat No 3. When hot enough add a little oil and the mince/ground beef and allow to settle. When brown on one side turn the mince over. This should take around 10 minutes in total. If there’s a lot of excess fat then tilt the pan, grab kitchen paper and carefully soak the fat out of the pan and discard the paper. If that has happened continue to brown the mince until golden. The meat will be far tastier if allowed to catch on base of pan, a little. Do stir through occasionally, and break up the mince as you do, to prevent the mince from burning. Reduce heat to No 2 when nicely golden.
  • Put a pan/skillet with lid on heat No 2 and add a little oil and the fresh tomatoes. Put on the lid and leave them, checking to make sure they don’t dry out. Remove the lid after about 15 minutes and continue to cook until nicely soft. When ready to be added to the mince place a fine wire metal sieve over the pan with the mince and rub the tomatoes through with a wooden spoon, scraping off any purée from underneath as well.
  • Meanwhile, add the cumin seeds to a dry pan and put on heat No 1 for up to 5 minutes, or until their fragrance is released. Grind to a powder and set aside. Add to the mince before adding stock.
  • Lower the heat of the mince to No 2 and add the red kidney beans. Lower the heat more if necessary, and cook for several minutes. Sprinkle over the ground cumin seeds, the smoked paprika (add less to begin with) and stir through. Do not allow the spices to burn. Take off heat until either the stock or canned tomatoes are ready to be added.
  • Prep the stock cube in a small pan with half the water and the other half of the bay leaf on heat No 2. When dissolved pour over the mince and beans.
  • Prep the tomatoes, removing any skin and green parts. Mash these in a suitable bowl. Add to the mince along with the tomato purée.
  • Up the heat to No 4, add the red chilli and the oregano. By this stage the chili con carne can be cooked for a further 20 – 30 minutes. Once it starts to bubble though I normally turn the heat down to No 2 and put a lid on to prevent the sauce from thickening too much. At this stage the sauce does need to be stirred through the occasional time to prevent it from sticking to the base of pan.
  • When onions are golden remove from heat and prep the garlic. Add to the pan and put back on heat No 1. When garlic is soft add to the mince.
  • Put a saucepan on heat No 4 with enough water to cook the rice to its pack’s instructions.

I’m going to add here how I cook rice. I’ve quite often heard people say that their rice turns out soggy. It’s simple: pour cold water into a large saucepan, about 1/2 way, put on heat No 4 until it boils. Measure out 50 – 70g of rice per person, add to the water and leave it. Don’t stir, don’t add salt. After about 3 – 4  minutes it’s okay to stir through, gently, to release any grains of rice from the base of pan. Check a grain or two to test if its cooked (if cooked the rice will smell fragrant). If so, simply strain through a colander or metal sieve and serve.

TO STORE COOKED RICE: If you need to store rice overnight then rinse immediately with cold water after its cooked until the grains of rice are absolutely cold. Drain as well as possible and add to an airtight container. Refrigerate at once. NEVER store overnight and reheat next day if you’ve forgotten to chill the rice immediately after its cooked!

All photographs within (Todas las fotografías dentro de) Kitschnflavours:
All rights reserved (© Todos los derechos reservados) – Copyright © Johnny H Hepburn

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