Chili con Carne y Frijoles


With apologies to Texas

You may suspect, by now, that the chief ingredients of all chili are fiery envy, scalding jealousy, scorching contempt and sizzling scorn. ” – H. Allen Smith

There are so many brilliant quotes about Chili con Carne, the one above comes from maybe not the definitive, but certainly one of the funniest articles ever written on the subject. Another favourite is “”In Texas, four things temporal are held inviolate — women, states’ rights, a cattle brand, and chili.” – Joe Cooper

(A quick note on the language used below – when I say Chili I am referring to the dish Chili con Carne, when I say Chilli I am referring to the fruit, and yes they are a fruit not a vegetable!)

Clearly Texans hold their beloved Chili in high esteem, and I wouldn’t want to offend their sensibilities with this recipe, these people have guns for goodness sake! However that is exactly what, with the best intentions at heart, I am going to do.

I’ll say up front I have no frame of reference for what an authentic Chili con Carne should taste like, I have never visited the Lone Star state, let alone tasted an authentic bowl of Texas Red. One thing is abundantly clear however, beans have no place in an authentic Texan Chili – “Cook your chili con carne, and cook a pot of beans at the same time. When they are done, throw the beans out and eat chili like it was meant to be eaten”.

When you think about it though, it makes perfect sense for Texans to ban beans. Texas is far and away the biggest cattle producing state, 11.7 million heads in 2015, with the beef industry playing a massive role in the local economy. Of course they don’t want people adding beans to Chili – it means you need less meat in the recipe! Less meat means reduced cattle sales which means less money coming in. Just a personal theory. 😉

Here in the UK beans are not only permissible, but almost obligatory, I don’t think I’ve ever been served a Chili which didn’t contain some form of bean. As such I am going to include them in this recipe, sorry Texas, at least I added Y Frijoles to the recipe title to give fair warning! Traditionally a British Chili recipe would include kidney beans, but they don’t do much for me, I prefer instead to use black beans.

Other than that I think my recipe adheres fairly strictly to what could be considered a relatively authentic Chili – no tomatoes, no coffee, no chocolate – if you want to use chocolate make a proper Mole Poblano!

Controversial beans aside, the only ingredients are beef chuck, stock, onion, garlic, chillies and a wide variety of spices added sporadically throughout the cooking process in separate “dumps”. I was a bit skeptical when I first experimented with a staggered approach to adding the spices, and whether it would make a considerable difference to the finished taste of the dish, but it really absolutely does and I now consider it essential – those US chili cook off cooks know what they are doing!

I like to use a whole piece of beef chuck for this, which I hand cut into small cubes.


Texturally I think this makes for a slightly more interesting dish than using regular minced beef, but by all means use mince if you prefer.

A good variety of fixins to go with the chili is non negotiable for me – grated cheese, sour cream, nachos and a bowl of fresh pico de gallo are all essential sides.


How hot is hot?

This is an important note – I like fairly hot food and have a relatively high chilli threshold. It’s not a macho I’ll-order-the-hottest-curry-you-have thing, but I do love the capsicum flavour and actually crave the endorphin rush that chillies provide. The recipe below makes a hot chili, around an 8 on my 1-10 tolerance scale.

This is undoubtedly hotter than many people would be comfortable with, so unless you are a serious chilli head I would recommend halving all measures of chilli listed below the first time you make this and then adjust according to your own taste.

The heat itself has a really interesting profile, when you take a mouthful it starts off disappointingly tame then rapidly escalates in a quite alarming manner before abruptly leveling off and dissipating pleasantly – it’s an addictive process.

Buen provecho!



Cooking time: 3 hours
Serves: 6-8 portions


1.5kg Beef chuck
500ml Beef stock
760g Black beans (pre-cooked)
2 Onions
6 Garlic cloves
2 Dried Cascabel chillies
2 Dried Ancho chillies
2 Fresh jalapeño chillies
3 Tsp Chipotle paste
3 Tsp Smoked paprika
3 Tsp Dried oregano
1 ½ Tsp Onion powder
2 Tsp Smoked garlic powder
1 Tsp Smoked salt
2 ½ Tsp Hot chili powder
3 Tsp Gochugaru
4 Tsp Freshly ground cumin
2 ½ Tsp Mild chili powder
1½ Tsp Cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Tabasco sauce to taste

Serve with:

  • Pico de Gallo
  • Grated cheddar
  • Sour cream
  • Nachos
  • Rice


Heat the beef stock in a saucepan and when beginning to simmer, remove from the heat and add the dried Cascabel and Ancho chillies along with the fresh jalapeño chillies (roughly chopped) and the chipotle paste. Place the saucepan to one side and leave to stand for 30 mins. After this time blend the whole lot with a stick blender.

In the meantime peel and finely dice the onion and saute gently in a little oil in a large casserole dish until soft. Peel and crush the garlic cloves and add to the casserole, sweat for a couple of mins.

Cut the beef chuck into small cubes, around 2cm square, and add to the casserole. Stir well and brown the meat.

When the meat has browned a little add the pureed chilli stock and stir well and bring to a very gentle simmer, add a little water if the meat isn’t fully immersed in the stock.

Now add your first spice dump to the chili:

1st Dump:

3 Tsp Smoked paprika
3 Tsp Dried oregano
1 ½ Tsp Onion powder
1 Tsp Smoked garlic powder
1 Tsp Smoked salt
1 ½ Tsp Hot chili powder
3 Tsp Gochugaru
3 Tsp Freshly ground black pepper

Stir well, cover and return to a gentle simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally, if the dish looks like it is getting too dry add a little water, but not too much you want a fairly thick, glossy finish to the dish.

After 2 hours has passed add your second spice dump to the chili:

2nd Dump:

3 Tsp Freshly ground cumin
1 Tsp Smoked garlic powder
½ Tsp salt
1 1/2 Tsp Mild chili powder
1½ Tsp Cayenne pepper

Return to a gentle simmer for a further 30 mins.

After this time has passed add the drained black beans to the casserole along with the final spice dump:

3rd Dump:

1 Tsp Hot chilli powder
1 Tsp Mild chili powder
1 Tsp Freshly ground cumin
1 Tsp Salt
2 Tsp Freshly ground black pepper
Splash of Tabasco sauce

Return to a gentle simmer for a final 10 mins and remove from the heat. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your taste.

You could serve this straight away, but it is best left to cool then refrigerated overnight and reheated the next day. Serve with the Pico de Gallo, grated cheddar, sour cream, nachos and/or rice…and of course a nice chilled cerveza!



2 thoughts on “Chili con Carne y Frijoles

  1. Still trying to use up that kilo of Korean chilli then Paul???
    Great recipe
    I once did a themed Mexican party and found the recipes really complex and demanding.
    It always frustrates me when there is no approachable scale to chilli powder heat on the retail products just mild or hot.
    May I add for anyone tackling this recipe
    USE A MEASURING SPOON AND LEVEL IT OFF. Teaspoons are a flexible measure when you use one from the drawer and can easily double the intended quantity.

    Muchas gracias senor

    Liked by 1 person

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