Cooking with Phil the test manager : Chilli Con Carnie

Going Postal

The prologue:

Many will have had chilli con carnie before, it is usually made with chilli powder and quite often rather bland.  Some have carrots, celery or sweetcorn in them.  This does not, so is safe to eat. You may not like the ones you get at Disney World or out of a tin, but if you make it like what I do, you will most likely change your mind.

Over the years I have developed the perfect recipe, which needs real chillies.  I am always asked to make this at parties with the family, it really goes down well.  So I thought I would share.


3 Bottles of your favourite (good quality) red wine
750 grams of good quality minced beef (please buy the one without horse), preferably not halal.
1 red and 1 yellow pepper, is small, add another one
2 medium size red and 1 white onion
Half to one clove of garlic, depends if everyone likes it or not.
3 to 6 chillies, those about 4 inches’ long, green or red is fine.
Small box of mushrooms, normal sort, not the posh stuff.
3 tins plum tomatoes
2 tins Kidney beans
3 Oxo cubes
1 of those beef gelatine thingies
Bisto gravy granules

Your favourite rice, as long as it is white basmati.

A nice French Stick from Sainsbury’s, or Tesco’s, unless like me, you are banned for putting your gentleman’s’ sausage in the bacon slicer.  Susan her name was, really obliging lady.  You can use garlic bread, but remember the rule, if one eats it, all eat it.

High quality, extra soft, toilet paper. (not needed until the following morning)


Open one of the bottles of wine and fill a standard wine glass.
Take a sip, if it is not good enough to drink, it is not good enough to cook with!
Put the mince in a large pan, I use one of those big Wok thingies
Brown the mince off (not a euphemism)
Take a sip of the wine, to be absolutely sure it is good quality.
In the meantime, slice the onions, about 1-inch-long, quarter inch slices.
Tip:  To avoid onion tears, simply take a few sips of the wine whilst chopping.  To be honest, it does not stop the tears, but it does makes you feel better.
Slice the peppers into about half inch chunks
Peel and chop finely the garlic, or the posh ones can use that squeezer thingy that can never be cleaned proper.  Put aside.
Finely chop into poncy thin rings all the chillies.  A beginner should start with 3 chillies, one with the seeds left in, the others, de-seed. As you build up your immunity, you can increase the quantity of chillies and how many of them that you leave the seeds in.
At this point, wash your hands, as chillies are a bit of a bugger if you accidently pick your nose after handling them.
Reward yourself with a sip or 2 of the wine, and refresh the glass.
When the mince is browned off, remove from the heat and drain, this is very important, even high quality mince has fat, and as much as possible needs to be removed.
Wash your pan or wok out. (Again, not a euphemism).

Turn on to maximum, whatever ventilation your kitchen has, and open all doors leading to the outside.  Warn everyone in the household that there is going to be a pungent smell, and not of the kind they are normally used to.

Fortify yourself with a few sips of wine.

Add a drizzle of Olive Oil to the pan or wok, heat, then add the chopped garlic and the chillies, keep stirring for at least 1 minute, or until the fumes get to you.

You will need to finish that glass of wine off, so refresh the glass.

Apologise to anyone in the house for the house for the rather powerful smell, but it is worth it!

Once the Garlic and Chillies have been done, add the onions and peppers and a drizzle of Olive Oil, not too much, we want them the steam a bit, so they are a bit soft.  Stir frequently for around 3 sips of wine, whilst adding a tiny bit of ground salt and a generous portion of ground pepper.   This is a healthy dish, hence not much salt and hardly any fat.

Now add the minced beef from the drainer and stir to combine the ingredients.  Finish off the glass of wine, open the second bottle and re-fill the glass.

Add 3 tins of tomatoes, if they are not chopped, cut them up a couple of times, then stir in.

Add the beef gelatine thingy and the 3 Oxo cubes and stir well.  Stirring is thirsty work so take a few sips of wine.

Simmer for around 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, so this gives you time to not read the GP comments and have a few sips of wine.

By now, you should be on your last glass of the second bottle of wine. The glorious smell of the chili con carnie will permeate through the house, and everyone will be feeling really hungry.

Chop into quarters or halves, if a bit small, and add the mushrooms, stir in gently.

Allow to simmer, stirring every other sip of wine, during the next 15 minutes.

Open the tins of kidney beans, wash and drain in a colander add, and gently stir in.  They just need 10 minutes or so to warm through.

Turn the heat down so it hardly bubbles at all.

Add gravy granules until the dish reaches a fairly thick consistency.  Turn the heat up a little so it bubbles.  Stir every few minutes, do not let it burn.

Cook the rice, I like the ones that you microwave for 2 minutes.  2 packs will do 3 people.

Slice the French stick and spread with butter. (or nuke the garlic bread)

Finish off the last glass of wine and announce dinner is served.


Fill as many plates as required with the rice and the chilli, put bread in the centre of the table, open the third bottle of wine so they can all have a nice drink as well.

The recipe will give around 10 servings, so any that is left over, put into freezer bags in individual portions, you can defrost it for 10 minutes in the microwave and 4 minutes on full power, for a very quick and tasty meal, try with rice, chips or those Dorito crisp thingies, or even on a baked potato.

Phil the test manager ©