Chilli con carne from scratch

Helen Keown


Helen Keown

Gingergirl suggests adding a bit of coriander to give your chilli a fresh taste
Hello and welcome to all about food. This week we’re getting a little retro, so invite some friends over and get ready for some seriously good chilli.

Hello and welcome to all about food. This week we’re getting a little retro, so invite some friends over and get ready for some seriously good chilli.

Ask gingergirl

Dear gingergirl

I’m trying to tighten my belt, cutting down on ready made, expensive, sauces such as jars of Bolognese sauce, Carbonara mix etc. My favourite is chilli con carne but when I’ve attempted to make it from scratch it seems to lack the richness that my ready-made sauces have! Any recipes for an easy but tasty chilli con carne?

Trish, Caherdavin.

Hi Trish,

This chilli con carne recipe is my absolute favourite. It definitely has that rich tomato depth that you’re after but it also has a freshness from the fresh coriander that I love as it stops it feeling too heavy.

Easy Chilli Con Carne!

1 tbsp oil

1 large onion, finely diced

1 red pepper, diced

1 stick of celery, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 heaped tsp of hot chilli powder

1 tsp of paprika

1 tsp of ground cumin

1 tsp of ground cinnamon

1 small bunch fresh coriander, chopped

500g lean minced beef

1 beef stock cube

400g can chopped tomatoes

½ tsp dried oregano

1 tsp sugar

2 tbsp tomato purée

410g can red kidney beans

Put your pan on the hob over a medium heat. When warm, add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the garlic, red pepper, chilli, paprika, cinnamon and cumin. Cook for another five minutes, stirring occasionally.

Turn the heat up a little, add the meat to the pan and break it up with your spoon or spatula. The mix should sizzle a bit when you add the mince. Keep stirring until all the mince is in uniform, mince-sized lumps and there are no more pink bits. Make sure you keep the heat hot enough for the meat to fry and brown but not stew.

Crumble your stock cube into 300 ml of hot water. Pour this into the pan with the mince mixture then add the tomatoes. Tip in the oregano and the sugar and season. Squirt in roughly two tablespoons of tomato purée and stir the sauce well.

Bring to the boil, give the chilli a good stir and put a lid on the pan. Turn down the heat until it is gently bubbling and leave it for twenty minutes. Stir the chilli occasionally to make sure the sauce doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan or isn’t drying out. If it is, add a little water. After simmering gently, the chilli should look thick, moist and juicy.

Drain and rinse the beans in a sieve and stir them into the chilli along with the roughly chopped coriander. Bring to the boil again, and gently bubble without the lid for another ten minutes, adding a little more water if it looks too dry. Taste the chilli and season. It will probably take a lot more seasoning than you think.

And finally…

I love to serve my chilli with boiled long grain rice, some tortilla chips and homemade guacamole. For the guacamole just mash a large, ripe avocado, add a finely diced small red onion, the juice of one lime, a small bunch of fresh coriander and half a red chilli – deseeded if you prefer a milder taste – and you’re good to go!

Contact gingergirl


Gingergirl aka Helen Keown is an artisan food producer who produces a range of handmade luxury jams, preserves and chutney’s made from local, seasonal or organic ingredients. Helen’s produce is available nationwide from independent food emporiums and is also available at selected food delis across Europe.

Letters to ‘gingergirl’ c/o The Limerick Leader, 54 O’Connell St. Limerick.

You can follow gingergirl’s on Twitter – under gingergirlfood or on Facebook – under ‘gingergirl’.