Maggie's chilli con carne
Maggie's chilli con carne

One pot and a sweetener

ONE-POT wonders are a boon to the busy cook.

Any recipe that leaves minimal mess to clean up is a winner in my books.

Chilli con carne is a perfect simple meal; you can dial down the heat if you are serving to children or if you don't like very spicy food yourself.

The secret ingredient in my chilli spice mix is cocoa; that's right, plain unsweetened baking cocoa.

The Mexicans have been adding chocolate to their savoury dishes for centuries; their mole sauces contain both unsweetened dark chocolate or cocoa and chillies. The cocoa introduces a dark, complex flavour that marries well with the spices and heat.

The spice mix I make which appears on this page today is enough to flavour about one-and-a-half kilograms of minced beef or turkey. Either can be used for this dish. If you don't like a lot of heat, halve the dried chilli powder or flakes and the cayenne pepper.

If you make a lesser quantity of chilli con carne (today's recipe uses 500g of meat), the rest of the spice mixture can be stored in an airtight container in a dark cupboard. As with all spices, fresh is best so use the remainder of the spice mix within one month.

Or you can make up the full batch and divide the chilli into servings and freeze for later use. Label it with the date and use within three months.

I like to serve my chilli con carne with salted plain crackers, grated tasty cheddar and with a small dollop of fat-reduced sour cream.

You can also serve it with crusty bread or corn chips, or you could cook off most of the liquid and use as a filling for tacos or burritos.


Chilli con carne


500g minced beef or turkey

3 tblspn spice mix (see below)

1 x 440g can Italian crushed tomatoes

250ml beef stock (if you use a box, omit salt)

2 tblspn tomato paste

1 tblspn brown sugar

1/4 tspn salt

1 x 440g can red kidney beans, drained

Spice Mix

3 tblspn ground cumin

3 tblspn smoky paprika

1 tblspn dried chilli powder or chilli flakes

1 tblspn cayenne pepper

1 tblspn baking cocoa

2 tspn onion powder

2 tspn dried oregano

1 tspn garlic powder

1 tspn ground black pepper

To serve

Plain crackers or crusty bread

Grated tasty cheese

A few dollops of fat-reduced sour cream or slices of capsicum, to garnish (optional)



Heat a medium sized saucepan over high heat. Brown mince in two batches, breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon.

Return all meat to pan.

Reduce heat to medium and add three tablespoons of spice mix (see below).

Stir through meat and cook off spices for two to three minutes over medium heat.

Stir in tomatoes (including juice), stock, tomato paste, sugar and salt.

Increase heat and bring to the boil while stirring.

Reduce heat to low and cover pan with a lid. Simmer for 45 minutes, removing lid and increasing heat for last five minutes of cooking to reduce liquid.

Add drained kidney beans and stir; simmer until beans are heated through.

Serve with a little grated cheese on top and crackers on the side, or with warm crusty bread. Top with a small dollop of sour cream if desired, or fine slices of fresh chilli or capsicum.

To make spice mix

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Store unused portion in an airtight bag or container in the pantry. Use within one month.

Serves four.


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