Ultimate chilli con carne

Ultimate chilli con carne

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(12 ratings)

Prep: 1 hr, 15 mins Cook: 2 hrs plus overnight chilling


Serves 6
For a more authentic chilli with a depth of flavour, use diced belly pork, beef steak and pancetta and slowly simmer

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal555
  • fat29g
  • saturates9g
  • carbs12g
  • sugars4g
  • fibre4g
  • protein51g
  • salt1.9g
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  • 500g lean belly pork slices



    One of the most versatile types of meat, pork is economical, tender if cooked correctly, and…

  • 700g skirt steak or lean stewing beef



    Steak is essentially a boneless thick or thin slice of red meat, cut across the grain of a large…

  • 75g diced pancetta or rashers rindless smoked streaky bacon



    Pancetta is Italian cured pork belly - the equivalent of streaky bacon. It has a deep, strong,…

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
    olive oil

    Olive oil

    ol-iv oyl

    Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

  • 2 onions, chopped



    Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 unwaxed lemon



    Oval in shape with a pronouced bulge on one end, lemons are one of the most versatile…

  • 3 tbsp Mexican chilli powder (see tip) or the milder dulce pimentón powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp flour



    Flour is usually made from grinding wheat, maize, rye, barley or rice. As the main…

  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp dried oregano



    Closely related to marjoram, of which it is the wild equivalent, oregano has a coarser, more…

  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 300ml red wine
  • 450ml chicken or beef stock
  • 400g can black beans, drained and rinsed

To serve

  • rice or couscous, to serve



    Consisting of many tiny granules made from steamed and dried durum wheat, couscous has become a…

  • 300ml soured cream
  • 4 small firm ripe avocados



    Although it's technically a fruit, the mild-flavoured avocado is used as a vegetable. Native…

  • juice 2 limes, plus extra wedges to serve (optional)



    The same shape, but smaller than…

  • 2 tbsp sweet chilli dipping sauce
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander or chives


  1. The day before, cut all the meat into small chunks – this will take at least 30 mins. In a spacious, heavy-based pan, fry the pancetta in the oil over a medium heat until it is crisp and the fat has melted.

  2. Stir the onions and garlic into the crisping pancetta and cook, stirring often, for 10-15 mins until soft.

  3. Cut the lemon into quarters lengthways, then remove the pithy core and seeds. Chop into small pieces (each with a bit of peel). Remove the pan from the heat and scoop the contents into a sieve, letting any fat drain back into the pan – and give some encouragement with a wooden spoon.

  4. Return the pan to the heat and brown the pork in the hot fat, then stir in the beef and brown that too. Add the chilli powder and cumin, and cook over a low heat for 2 mins, stirring constantly. Add the flour and cook for a further 2 mins. Add the bay leaves, 1/2 tsp salt, the lemon, oregano, tomato purée, red wine and stock. Return the onions to the pan. Bring to a simmer, stirring often, then reduce the heat and cook, uncovered, and stirring occasionally to avoid sticking, for 2 hrs until the sauce is thick and the liquid has reduced. Add salt to taste. Cool, cover and chill overnight. Can be frozen at this stage for up to 1 month – defrost overnight in the fridge before continuing with the recipe.

  5. Add the beans to the chilli and reheat. Serve with rice or couscous, a dollop of soured cream, slices of avocado tossed in lime juice, a splash of chilli sauce, sprinkling of coriander, and lime wedges, if you like.

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Comments, questions and tips

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17th Mar, 2019
I substitute a good quality dry hopped American pale ale for the wine - added (100%) chocolate and used chipotle chille powered - lovely recipe really satisfying we had it with wild rice with homemade guacamole corn bread and sour cream
4th Jan, 2019
Everybody really loves this - It oozes quality (and flavour!) Not often you could serve a chilli to a large group and get a reaction like you'd cooked something special.
21st Dec, 2017
So after looking through the comments I decided to use half the lemon and the balance seemed just right. Sliced the pieces small so they were sure to break down. Also cooking time seemed way off - it just improved slow cooking in the oven for maybe 5-6 hours total. Consistency was much better and with that you don't notice the fattier bits on the pork belly. Also added a chunk of the classic chilli stalwart, 70% dark chocolate. 5 star with these changes.
16th Aug, 2015
This is a really tasty recipe. It took quite a lot of preparation but I then put it in the slow cooker for ages (approx 6 hours) and it was meltingly delicious. Quite lemony so if your not sure about that flavour, just add half a chopped lemon.
10th May, 2015
I made this recipe and it was amazing! I used mince instead of cutting it all up, and I put the lemons in and it was just amazing!
5th May, 2015
Made this without the lemons, & used pork & beef mince - hubby said it was the best, chilli he had ever had. Making mince today for cottage pie & using the ingredients as above, without the chilli spices, lemons & beans - hoping for just as successful a recipe. Fantastic x
28th Mar, 2015
Tried this last night and after reading comments I left out the lemons - I went down really well with my guests who asked for the recipe. It was rich and flavoursome. Thing I would say is that next time I'll remove the fat off the belly pork, it didn't render down and I had to fish out the little pieces and cut off the fat as no one wants to eat that! I might try mincing the pork too next time to cut down the prep time - I didn't feel the effort of dicing improved the recipe that much
25th Mar, 2015
I have to disagree- I cooked this for friends and we all absolutely loved it, including the added lemon. I cooked it for the full two hours, and the lemon almost disintegrated. I think it was the mix of pork belly and beef skirt which made it so delicious.
7th Mar, 2015
Would HIGHLY recommend not using lemon. It was far too bitter and the lemon left a horrible after taste. It might be ok with lemon juice in it but wouldn't simmer the meat with the lemon chunks.
22nd Oct, 2016
You need a lemon with a thin white pith, and discard any peel that has a thick pith.


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22nd Oct, 2016
I have made this twice now. First time it was perfect, second time it was OK, but a bit too bitter for my taste. I think the difference was the kind of lemon used - the 2nd time the lemon had a thick white pith, which caused the bitterness. I would recommend that you use the lemon, as it cuts into the richness of the pork belly and lardons, but choose your lemon carefully - it should be as round as possible, not pointy, and should feel squishy when pressed, not firm. This indicates a lemon with thin pith. After quartering the lemon, check how thick the pith is and cut as much of the white pith away as possible, before chopping up the lemon. If it turns out your lemon has a thick white pith all over, zest it instead and add the lemon juice.
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