The Tipped Chilli Cook Off (and the winner is…)

Chilli Victory
…! This past weekend, the Mucky Pup Pub in Islington was host to the first ever Tipped chilli cook-off – 8 chillis went head to head in a blind tasting and miraculously, my chilli won! It was a tough call though – there was some serious competition in there – number four, damn, you were tasty.

The chilli wasn’t the only heat that pup was packin though, we enjoyed nachos, salsa and guac from Mucho Mas, some awesome tuneage and, last but by no means least, the Sarah Palin Pinata (above). Boy, did she take a hammering…and after that, well, I couldn’t possibly reveal her sticky end….

What I will reveal however, is my chilli recipe. The quantities below will serve about 8-10 on my reckoning. There are a couple of things I do which I think makes the chilli extra delish. Firstly, I use two scotch bonnet chillies, which I roast first (with the garlic), to mellow out the heat and intensify the sweet, fruity flavour. I also always make sure to use dried kidney beans rather than tinned for their superior bite and I add some dark chocolate at the end of cooking, to give the chilli depth and a touch of sweetness.

Chilli Con Carne

1200g stewing beef, cut into bite size chunks
1 whole bulb of garlic
2 extra large scotch bonnet chillies
2 onions, diced
1 handful coriander leaves
100ml beef stock
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 heaped tablespoon tomato puree
3 tins cherry tomatoes in their juice
2 romero peppers, diced
400g kidney beans, soaked overnight and cooked
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
A splash of red wine
A teaspoon or two of red wine vinegar
50g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)

– Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Remove the outer papery layers from the garlic bulb (leaving the cloves intact and the bulb together) and cut the top 1/2cm from the top of the bulb. Put the garlic and chillies in a small roasting dish, drizzle with oil and cover with foil. Roast for about half an hour until the garlic is soft. Remove from the oven and tease the garlic cloves from their cases and scrape the seeds and skin from the chillies, set both aside.
– Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a dry pan over a medium heat for a minute or so until they start to smell aromatic (keep giving the pan a shimmy so they don’t burn). Remove to a pestle and mortar (or grinder) and grind to a powder.
– Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil (I like groundnut) in a large cooking pot, brown the meat in small batches and set aside.
– Heat a couple more tablespoons of oil in the pot and add the onions on a medium heat until soft and opaque before adding the peppers for a few minutes until softened. Add the garlic, chilli, cumin, coriander (seed) and oregano, stir for a couple of minutes and then add a good splash of red wine and allow the alcohol to burn off.
– Return the meat to the pan together with the beef stock, tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, cinnamon stick and bay leaf and simmer for 2 hours or more on a really low heat (lid on) before adding the vinegar, dark chocolate and fresh coriander. The chilli is best eaten the day after you make it, with a touch more fresh coriander to finish.

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39 thoughts on “The Tipped Chilli Cook Off (and the winner is…)

  1. I just started ordering dried beans from a purveyor in California, (I live in a rice culture so good dried beans are hard to find) along with a slow cooker, so this is going to get made very soon. Glad I read comment #27 before I asked the same bean question! :) I almost fell over when I saw the Sarah Palin pinata–it’s not to late to smack her around a bit, I mean the piรฑata of course.
    I’m having a blast reading these archives, they are such a great way to read current “history”, if you know what I mean–

  2. Hi Helen,
    I think I must be having a senior moment as I cannot see the actual recipe anywhere! Can you help please, I’d loveto give this a go….

  3. I just wanted to say, as I looked up this recipe for the nth time, that this is basically my go-to recipe for chilli, and I’ve probably made it at least 10 times by this point. So just wanted to say thanks for sharing!

    (like the above poster, I also use a little less dark chocolate than in the recipe though)

  4. It was an absolute triumph. It had a real depth of flavour; the roasted chilli and garlic is genius; worked a treat.

    My Mrs is a chilli hound and cooks a superb one, even she admitted this recipe was better.

    Thanks for the recipe!

  5. Just made this double quantities as I had a pile of beef that needed eating.

    Outstanding recipe, just superb. Only tweak I’d add is to slightly reduce the amount of chocolate if using super-dark stuff (90% and above). I tasted-and-added and put in just under the 50g.

    I cooked mine for about 3/3.5 hours in total as I had some hoovering that needed doing, and it came out perfectly. Roasting the scotch bonnets is inspired, deepens their character superbly and gives exactly the right chilli kick.

    I used featherblade steak to make it, about 2.4kg, and doubled everything else.

  6. holy crap, I was there! and I probably voted for you too. Awesome day that was, great pub too. They should do that cook off again.

  7. Hey Pete, thanks for your comment. The tins of tomatoes are 400g. Thanks also for asking why I hadn’t specified when to add the beans, of course, I was just testing you ๐Ÿ˜‰

    So basically the beans are cooked beforehand and then you add them to the chilli in the final stages, just to re-heat. I would add them for the final 15 minutes of cooking, just before you add the chocolate. If you are not making the chilli the day before you want to eat it, then perhaps add them for the final hour of cooking, just to make sure they soak up enough of that lovely flavour.

    Do let me know what you think of the recipe if you try it. I am always trying to improve on recipes and I’d like your feedback – especially if you are CHILI FREAK!



  8. what size tins of tomatoes? Also, when do you add the beans? From the recipe instructions it seems to infer that the beans are being cooked on thier own prior to being added to the chili mixture – please advise!! Thanks from a CHILI FREAK!!

  9. Hi Helen,

    We are holding a chili cook off this Summer in the East End of London, at an all American venue. Would you be interested in competing again? And do you know anyone else that would like to be involved?


  10. Thanks for sharing this recipe.. Just tried it out and I must say it’s the mother of all chillis. There is so much depth and complexity in this dish. Can’t wait to tuck into the leftovers tomorrow.. :)

  11. Maryann – Thank you! I did, for a day at least :)
    Christie – You must make arrangements to rectify this missing life experience asap!
    Niamh – yes, give the vinegar a go, I think it makes a big difference. I won’t mention the wine comment, which was clearly a Freudian slip ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Kittie – Yes, roasting them really makes them a lot sweeter.
    Nicisme – Thank you!
    Lizzie – It’s definitely worth it, much more bite and texture.
    Bellini Valli – Thanks!
    Ilva – Just make sure you have it early ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Lethological Gourmet – Knowck one up, it’s never too late!
    Daziano – Be my guest.
    Spaghetti – Thank you, I wore my hat with pride :)
    Peter G – A moose?! Yeah, maybe, she certainly isn’t right that’s for sure.
    Mike – The chocolate is a total must in my opinion.
    Y – I know you liked it!
    Johanna – I do like to pack them in there, I now know when to stop however…
    Ben – thanks, it wasn’t my idea, it was the guys at Tipped – genius isnt it?
    Kellypea – I think the choc is essential, give it a go!
    Jenn – I expect it is a little hot in Florida right now?!
    Su-lin – thanks, yep they really gave a fruity sweetness.
    We are never full – We can hope and pray, at least. I’m not sure though. She is ripe for mocking.
    Katie – I am SO glad you tried it and even more happy that you liked it! It is very spicy but I think it is still manageable. Get some sour cream on there for extra decadence!!

  12. A very well deserved win Helen…I love the recipe. On another note I just love how the whole world wants to bash Sarah Palin…pinata or not! Actually, I thought she was a moose….

  13. Oh, this looks like a wonderful recipe Helen. I always add chocolate to my chilli too, and I would imagine that the vinegar would add a lovely sharpness to offset it. Mmmm. I also like the idea of roasting the scary scotch bonnets, mmmmm. I am definitely going to be trying this!

    Congrats on your wine :-) The photos are just great! Seemed like a really fun day.

    Niamhs last blog post..Orzo with Butternut Squash, Spinach and Buffalo Ricotta


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