Friday, 4 November 2011

chilli con carne

Usually, when I cook chilli-orientated dishes, I use chilli flakes or at a push I'll use the bog-standard red chillies from Tesco. I've always been a bit wary of using different types of chilli, I think mainly because I've been unsure of their heat and how much to add. Lots of heat just doesn't do it for me. I like to be able to taste the food, not have the overwhelming urge to drink 10 pints of water because the inside of my mouth is burning off. 

However, this blog post from Hollow Legs has inspired me to be a bit more adventurous when it comes to using chillies. I've not used all the chillies that Hollow Legs does, just Chipotle and those aforementioned standard chillies. I'm so glad I did use the Chipotle chillies. Their smell is an intense smokey, BBQ one, almost like a multiplied flavour of paprika.

I know a lot of people use beef mince, when they cook chilli con carne. But, using slow-cooked shin of beef brings a different textural experience. I also think that using a combination of beef and pork means that the dish isn't so heavy. Though, I was a bit dismayed when I bought my pig cheeks from the butchers. Their price seems to have rocketed. Still, it's well worth asking for them (just check how much they are).

PS. Chips probably aren't the most traditional of sides to go with chilli con carne. Maybe tortilla chips or rice?

Chilli Con Carne
Adapted from Hollow Legs

This recipe calls from a less extensive range of chillies, but there is certainly still a lot of heat going on (hence the inclusion of crème fraîche). It also has pig cheeks and red kidney beans.

Additionally, if you don't fancy using lager, add a couple of shots of bourbon.

300g shin of beef
400g pig cheeks
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 onions, diced
4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
14g (about 4) Chipotle chillies, roughly chopped
2 red chillies, deseeded and roughly chopped
400ml beef stock
1 can of lager
400g red kidney beans, cooked
crème fraîche, to taste (optional)

Preheat oven Gas 4 (180°C/350°F)

In a large pan, heat up the oil and brown all the meat on both sides. You may have to do this in batches. Once browned, set the meat aside and throw in the onions, garlic, and both types of chillies and fry for 5 minutes. 

Put the meat back in the pan along with the beef stock and lager and bring to a simmer. Cover and place in the oven for 4 hours. 

After 4 hours, place on the stove again and add the kidney beans. Cook for 5 minutes. 


  1. Ha ha! The chips do look good though. There's a pub I sometimes go to for lunch which serves half and half - half rice and half chips! It works really well. Your chilli looks good.

  2. That looks delicious.

    Lager's a strange choice though. Can't think what that would add to the mix. Surely a dark beer would make more sense?

  3. Thanks guys.

    Janice, it's hard to beat half and half!

    Minceandskirlie, it brings a subtle beer taste. Personally, I think an ale might be too overpowering and has the risk of going too bitter. My first choice would be a dash of Jack Daniels but it's a bit expensive for me.

  4. Er, you've forgotten to put the meat back in.

  5. Thanks, Saborosa. Correctly now, nice to see someone actually reads them