Auntie Karen’s Chilli recipe

Auntie Karen’s Chilli

Chilli is a dish that really needs to be personalised to your own family and its preferences. For example, my Mum really doesn’t like food that is too spicy so there’s no point in me making a really fiery chilli. The kids tend to complain about vegetables being in evidence in any meal but it’s quite simple to hide them in the overall flavours here and suddenly they don’t seem to be an issue any more. Generally a great stand by that I always keep containers of in the freezer for unexpected visitors.


400g or half a pound of beef mince – don’t go for the very low fat varieties, ideally about 10% fat

1 large onion finely chopped

1 large carrot finely chopped

1 stick celery finely chopped – optional

6 or 8 mushrooms peeled and chopped                                                                                                                       

1 red pepper deseeded and cut into strips – if you prefer spicier then leave in the seeds

I desert spoon garlic puree

1 or 2 desert spoons chilli powder – the strength of the chilli powder is up to you I use mild

2-3 heaped teaspoons good quality cocoa powder – you want it to give a slightly bitter chocolate taste and add colour but not add sugar, hot chocolate powder won’t work

1 400g tin of tomatoes

1 400g tin of kidney beans

70g tomato puree

About half a pint of red wine

In a large casserole dish, add the garlic puree and brown the mince. You won’t need to add any fat but will need to keep an eye on the pan so that the meat doesn’t burn and stick. You should season your meat at this stage with salt and pepper.

Once the meat is well browned, add your onion, carrot, celery and mushrooms. The fat that has come out of your mince will be plenty to sauté your vegetables in so you don’t need to add any extra. If you prefer to reduce the fat content even further you can spoon off some of the fat that comes out of the meat before adding the vegetables.

Continue to stir the mixture until all of the fat has cooked off and the mixture has gone quite dry. At this stage add the chilli powder and the cocoa powder. For ease you might like to mix the two together before adding. Continue to dry fry the mixture for a couple of minutes stirring constantly so that all of the ingredients are coated with the chilli/chocolate mix.

Add the tomato puree and tinned tomatoes and mix through well. Allow to cook for 2/3 minutes while you rinse out the tin of kidney beans to get rid of the sediment that tends to develop in tins. If you are using fresh kidney beans then you will have to have cooked and properly rinsed them off the night before. Some people disagree but I find that the tinned version tastes just as good and I prefer not to risk poisoning people eating my food!

The resulting mix should be very thick and a lovely deep red-brown colour. To avoid it drying out and sticking to the bottom of the pan, this is the point at which I add red wine. I love the extra depth of flavour that it adds but you could replace it with tomato juice or even water if you want to avoid alcohol.

Leave to simmer for about 45 minutes adding a dash more liquid if necessary to prevent drying out.

It’s fine to eat now but will be even better if you keep it in the fridge over-night and reheat. It is also a great dish to freeze. When I’m cooking it from frozen I add fresh tomatoes to the mix to add some extra liquid and often add another finely chopped pepper just to introduce a bit of crunch.


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