Chilli con carne might seem like an odd meal to give to children, but this is actually a fairly mild version and my kids certainly don't seem to find the spiciness off-putting – if I'm perfectly honest, they object more to the red pepper! If I'm cooking for both adults and kids, I tend to keep the chilli con carne fairly mild but serve it with crushed chilli flakes alongside, so anyone who wants their portion to have extra heat can add the chilli flakes at the table.
We went to the South Devon Chilli Farm recently and the chilli con carne they were serving in their café included dark chocolate in its ingredients. I really fancy trying that out at home sometime. My husband tried the stuff at the chilli farm and said he couldn't really taste the chocolate but presumably it's supposed to add an extra depth of flavour. What do you think? Has anyone been brave enough to try this? I've tried a few different brands of dark chocolate with chilli and I quite liked them, in a weird kind of way, so I definitely think it's a flavour combination that works.
Chilli con carne is a great meal to cook for a crowd. Even if I'm just cooking for the four of us, I usually make a double batch because it freezes well. I find that using mince is an economical way to make meat-based meals but if you want to stretch out the meat even further simply add more beans – chickpeas are a nice addition.
There are loads of ways to serve beef chilli – whether with rice, spooned over tortilla chips for nachos, or as a filling for tortillas. We love to eat ours with avocado, natural yogurt and grated cheese on the side.
Chilli con carne
½ tbsp vegetable oil1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
½ tbsp ground cumin
½ tbsp paprika
½ tsp mild chilli powder
450g lean beef mince
1 reduced-salt beef stock cube150ml water
250g passata or canned chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
200-g can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Pour the oil into a large saucepan and place over a low–medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and cook for 8 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and red chilli and cook for a further minute, then stir in the spices.
Meanwhile, place another large saucepan over a medium–high heat. Add the beef and dry-fry, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until the meat is browned all over. Crumble over the stock cube and stir well.
Add the browned beef to the onion mixture. Add the water, passata, tomato purée, oregano and bay leaf and stir to combine well. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat slightly and simmer for at least 30 minutes. Add the kidney beans and cook for a further 15 minutes. If the mixture seems runny, continue to simmer until reduced. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Tuck in!