Chunky chilli con carne


This is a great little dish, slowly cooked in the oven, full of warmth and flavoursome, and one that makes you feel like you have just surrounded yourself to a big hug. For me, this is kinda romantic – without the unnecessary faff and pressure the middle of this month sometimes brings. The dish is easily prepared and perfectly happy left alone, thus allowing you and your loved one to spend quality time together instead of being chained to the kitchen. Although, each to its own… Mr Grey???

I like an extra depth of flavour in my chilli so this one has cocoa powder added to it. Alongside the cocoa, range of spices and herbs is used to deliver warmth and earthy tones to the sauce. Ground cumin adds spice, cinnamon warmth and sweetness, sweet paprika complementary bitterness and ground and flaked chillies deliver the heat. The spiciness is rounded of by the bitter-sweet bay leaves whilst oregano adds further aromatics and peppery taste.


The dish uses stewing beef and since the meat is braised slowly in the oven, it becomes meltingly tender. The flavours develop further the longer they are left together so if you find yourself otherwise occupied in the evening, the chilli will happily wait till tomorrow so there is no rush. Here is the recipe.


  • 1kg of stewing beef
  • 2 large onions
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 3 sticks of celery
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1 tin of kidney beans
  • 1 ltr of chopped tomatoes or passata
  • 2 tbsp of cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp of sweet paprika
  • 2 tbsp of oregano
  • 2 tbsp of ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp of cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp of chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp of chilli flakes
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp of brown sugar


In a large casserole dish, heat up couple of spoonfuls of olive oil. Add chopped onions, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, oregano and bay leaves. Allow it all to cook on a slow heat until the onions become translucent and soft.


Now add the chopped celery, minced garlic, cocoa and chilli and give it all a mix. Allow to cook for further 10 minutes or so.


Now add the beef, cut into large chunks, give it a good mix and place a lid on the casserole. Leave for 5 minutes or so to allow the beef to release its juices.

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Add the tomatoes and sugar and place the dish in a preheated oven. Cook on 160°C for a couple of hours. Remove from the oven, add the chopped peppers and kidney beans and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper before returning it to the oven. Cook for further 30 minutes.


Serve with long grain rice. Dress it if required with crème fraîche and fresh lime wedges for added zing. And honestly, go and have fun… it will keep till tomorrow. Enjoy x