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Chilli for a crowd

Chilli for a crowd

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  • Preparation and cooking time
    • Prep:
    • Cook:
    • plus overnight soaking if using dried beans
  • More effort
  • Serves 12-14

Make a big batch of Mexican chilli con carne to keep hungry guests happy - this recipe serves 12-14

  • Freezable
Nutrition: per serving (14)


  • 400g dried black beans or red kidney beans, or 3 x 400g cans black beans or red kidney beans
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 900g minced pork
  • 900g coarsely minced beef
  • 250g rashers rindless smoked streaky bacon
  • 6 large onions, finely chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 celery heart, chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 large unwaxed lemons
  • 4 tbsp Mexican chilli powder (see tip) or mild chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 3 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
  • 300ml red wine
  • 300ml beef or chicken stock
  • 600ml soured cream
  • small bunch chives

For the guacamole

  • 5 ripe but firm avocados
  • 2 red bird's-eye chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 4 small red onions, finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 4 limes
  • 4 tbsp chopped coriander, plus sprigs to garnish (optional)

For the couscous

  • 750ml boiling water
  • juice 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 500g couscous

For the tortilla chips

  • 2 x 225g bags corn chips
  • 250g extra-mature cheddar, grated


  • STEP 1

    If using dried beans and not freezing the chilli, rinse and pick over the beans, then soak them overnight in plenty of water. Rinse again, and tip into a large pan with enough water to cover by 5cm and bring to the boil. Boil briskly for 10 mins, then turn down the heat and simmer gently for 30 mins or until tender. Drain and set aside.

  • STEP 2

    Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based lidded pan and brown the pork, then the beef, in 4 batches, scooping into a bowl as you go. Slice the bacon into strips. Add to the empty pan and cook gently to begin with, raising the heat as the bacon crisps. Scoop the bacon out of the pan, stir in the onions, garlic, celery and the bay leaves, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft but hardly coloured – about 20 mins.

  • STEP 3

    Quarter the lemons lengthways, cut out the pithy core and remove the seeds. Chop into very small pieces, each with a bit of peel. Stir the chilli powder, cumin and oregano into the onions and stir-fry for a couple of mins, then return the meat, adding the tomato purée, chopped tomatoes, lemon, wine and stock. Stir as the dish heats up, then simmer, covered, for 1 hr 30 mins. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Can be frozen at this stage for up to 1 month – defrost overnight in the fridge before continuing with the recipe.

  • STEP 4

    Add the beans to the pan – if you’re using canned beans, rinse them first. Cook, uncovered, for a further 30 mins. Can be cooled at this stage and kept covered in the fridge for 24 hrs.

  • STEP 5

    Tip the soured cream into a bowl, snip the chives into small pieces then scatter them over the soured cream, cover and refrigerate until serving.

  • STEP 6

    To make the guacamole, halve the avocados lengthways, remove the stone and use a fork to mash the flesh into its shell. Scoop out into a bowl, mashing further if necessary (I like it lumpy). Add the chillies, onions and the garlic crushed to a paste with a little salt. Squeeze over the juice of 3 limes, season with black pepper and add the chopped coriander. Mix, adding extra lime juice to taste. Cover with cling film, allowing it to touch the surface. Chill until required.

  • STEP 7

    To prepare the couscous, boil the kettle and measure 750ml water into a mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice, olive oil and couscous. Stir, cover with cling film and leave to soak for 30 mins, then fluff up with a fork.

  • STEP 8

    Prepare the corn chips up to 1 hr before serving. Spread the chips on baking sheets, scatter over the cheese and place under a hot grill for 2-4 mins until molten and crusty. Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve with the chilli, couscous, guacamole, soured cream and chives and some coriander leaves sprinkled over the top, if you like.

I like the Mexican chilli powders, usually made with ancho chillies, which give smokiness but not too much heat. You can find them online at

Goes well with

Recipe from Good Food magazine, February 2015

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A star rating of 3.6 out of 5.9 ratings

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