Chunky chilli con carne

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November 4, 2016

There's chilli and there's chilli. Everyone has their version but I think this one, using diced chuck, is pretty good. Long, slow cooking breaks up the chunks of chuck steak and the vegetables, particularly the roast squash, adds a bit of unctuousness. The extra herbs and spices give it balance making it far more interesting than the standard mouth burner. Definitely one for a cold winters night and worth making in bulk and freezing. You don't have to worry about overcooking so gently thawing in the pan is, almost, an improvement.


1 heaped tsp dried chilli flakes

2½ tsps ground cumin

2 tsps dried oregano

1 tsp cinnamon

5 sprigs of thyme, tied together with string

5 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

500g braising beef, chuck works well, roughly chopped into 4cm chunks

3 tbsp olive oil

1 heaped tsp cumin seeds

1 heaped tsp coriander seeds

Half a red chilli (or more if you like it hot), thinly sliced

2 Spanish onions, cut into large dice

2 carrots, cut into small dice

A small butternut squash – cut into large dice, tossed in a little olive oil and roasted until soft

2 red peppers, diced

2 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

4 x 400g tins of kidney beans, drained (If using dried beans, soak about 400g overnight in cold water, boil for fifteen minutes, and add at the same point in the recipe as the tinned ones.)

½ tsp smoked paprika (hot if you like it)

1 tsp salt


1Put the dried chilli, ground cumin, oregano, cinnamon, thyme and half the garlic into a dish and add the beef.

2Turn the meat to coat and leave in the fridge to marinate for a few hours - overnight if possible.

3Heat the olive oil in a deep stew pot over a medium heat and gently fry the cumin and coriander seeds for a few minutes until you start to smell them.

4Turn up the heat, stir in the beef with the thyme and fry on all sides.

5Add some salt, the fresh chilli, remaining garlic, Spanish onions, red peppers and carrots and keep stirring until the onions are transparent and the carrots softening - about 15-20 minutes.

6Tip in the chopped tomatoes and simmer for 20 minutes adding the kidney beans and roast squash.

7Pour in enough water to just cover, and simmer for an hour with the lid on.

8Stir in the paprika and a little more ground cumin to spritz it up a bit, take the lid off and simmer for another hour, until the meat is tender to the point of disintegrating and it’s become quite thick. Give it a good stir to break up the meat.

9Serve with the usual suspects; yoghurt, lime wedges, guacamole and grated cheese (if you must).