It’s not cold outside. It’s NOT cold outside. It’s NOT COLD OUTSIDE. It’s June, for goodness sake – and it’s cold outside. I could cry. Despite what it says on my calendar, we’ve had lots of wintery meals lately. We did sneak in a barbecue or two, but then the heavens opened and one day it was actually cold enough to put the heating back on. Awful













One of our cold weather staples is chilli con carne, which I do still make in warmer weather in the slow cooker. It’s one of those easy, forget about it, one pot meal kind of dish. Don’t let the long ingredient list scare you off; you can do a bit of prep work beforehand to save time when you start to put it all together. You can put all the spices together in a small bowl or ramekin and dice the vegetables ahead of time, for example.

This freezes really well and it’s great for buffet style meals – just leave it in a slow cooker on “low” and let guests serve themselves. You can also use this as a filling for enchiladas or burritos. People here tend to serve it on rice, but I always found that a bit too heavy. Why fill precious stomach space with rice when you can fill it with more chilli and things like cake?

My 7-year-old son loves this chilli wrapped up in a tortilla with shredded cheese, and globs of sour cream and guacamole. My 4-year-old daughter prefers it straight out of a bowl, and my 2-year-old daughter meticulously picks out all the beans. I kid you not, she will surgically remove any and all traces of beans from the chilli (but will quite happily devour a bowl of baked beans, go figure.)



  • 500g ground beef, diced chuck or diced brisket
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp chilli powder
  • 2tsp ground cumin
  • 1tsp paprika or smoked paprika
  • 1tbsp oregano (Mexican, if you can get it)
  • 1 cinnamon stick or 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 star anise (optional)
  • 1tsp cayenne pepper, a few drops of Tabasco sauce, or whatever hot thing you've got, to taste
  • 1 can of Guinness or any beer/stout/ale
  • 1tbsp worcester sauce
  • 1tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tins kidney beans, drained (or the equivalent in dried beans that have been soaked overnight)
  • 500ml of passata/tomato sauce
  • 1tbsp tomato paste
  • Garnishes: chopped avocado or guacamole, diced spring onions/green onions/scallions, sour cream, grated cheese (Monteray Jack if you can get it), wedges of lime.


In a large saucepan, heat a little oil over high heat and add the beef.

Make sure the pan isn't too crowded (do it in two batches, if necessary) and don't stir too often - you want it to form a sort of dark brown crust.

Remove the beef and drain.

To the same pan, add the onions, peppers, and garlic, and fry until the onions start to soften.

Add the chilli powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, cinnamon, bay leaves, star anise, and cayenne, and fry for 2-3 minutes.

Add the stout, bring it to the boil, and let it reduce by about 1/3.

Add the worcester sauce, stir in the cocoa powder, and tip in the beans, beef, and passata.

Stir in the tomato paste and bring it all to a simmer.

Cover and cook over a low flame for a minimum of 1 hour - I tend to leave it there for 2-3 hours. You can also put it in a slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours, but I find it gets a bit watery and prefer the stovetop method.

I only season chilli just before serving, because I read somewhere that beans get very tough when cooked with salt. I dunno if this is true, but I’m not taking any chances. Remove the star anise and bay leaves before serving. Serve with whatever toppings you fancy.

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  1. Lisa S
    June 15, 11:42 Reply

    I think beans only get tough with salt when you are boiling them from dried. But who wants to risk it.
    *My* 2-year-old surgically removes all the beans and only eats them. We should get them together.

  2. Hugh
    June 15, 12:38 Reply

    I like it served inside a large sourdough roll. Slice the top off, hollow out the insides, fill, add cheese and sour cream, and replace the lid. Eat the chili with the lid, and then eat the bowl as you eat the chili.

  3. Lisa Durbin
    June 15, 14:17 Reply

    Lisa, bean removal would keep them busy and happy for several minutes, I’m sure!

    Hugh, that sounds absolutely delicious.

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