The Tipped Chilli Cook Off – the winner is…

…! 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, less if you are greedy like me.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.

Cheers to the guys at Tipped for a truly awesome day and to all the tasters for voting my chilli to win – hurrah! You can see I was rather smitten with my new chef’s hat, crocheted chilli (thank you, Aromy!) and my ‘pocket gardens’ – soon I will be growing my very own chillies at home. Hot damn!


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.

Category: Food Events 39 comments »

39 Responses to “The Tipped Chilli Cook Off – the winner is…”

  1. maryann

    Congrats!! You rock!!

    maryanns last blog post..Bones of the Dead *Ossa Dei Morti

  2. Christie@fig&cherry

    Congratulations Helen! I’ve never made chilli before (shock horror), but I’m a big fan of chilli chocolate so I can see your reasoning with that added at the end. Sounds delicious.

    Christie@fig&cherrys last blog post..A Moveable Feast: Sugar Hits x 5!

  3. Niamh

    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

  4. Niamh

    Er, that should say congrats on your win ;-)

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

  5. kittie

    Woo hoo!! Congrats :D

    I love chili – I always try to use scotch bonnets or habeneros, but roasting them first is a new one!

    Great recipe :D

    kitties last blog post..Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Six Friends, Six Countries, One City

  6. Nicisme

    Your chilli is a winner for sure with the chocolate and scotch bonnets – Congratulations!!

    Nicismes last blog post..Chocolate Gingerbread for SHF!

  7. Lizzie

    Congratulations! Looks like an intruiging recipe, I’ve been wanting to try it with stewing steak rather than mince.

    Lizzies last blog post..The Kitchen at Parson’s Green

  8. Bellini Valli

    Congratulations on a job well done!!!!!!!!

    Bellini Vallis last blog post..The best of Intentions with Pasta……………

  9. ilva

    I wish was there or at least could have our curry for lunch!! Congrats!

  10. Lethological Gourmet, I soooo want a Sarah Palin pinata I can whack the hell out of!

    Lethological Gourmets last blog post..Fun New Foods: Stevia

  11. Daziano

    Can I hit Palin’s pinata? Please?!

  12. aforkfulofspaghetti

    Heh, heh – well done!

  13. Peter G

    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….

  14. Mike

    Congrats! That sounds like a delicious recipe (I’m also a big fan of chocolate in chili)

  15. Y

    Congrats on the win! My boyfriend would’ve been in chilli heaven if he got to attend that cookoff. I make chilli for him every now and then, and next time, I’ll have to try your recipe out on him, and let you know what he thinks!

    Ys last blog post..Daring Bakers Challenge : Pizza

  16. Johanna

    congratulations on your win – all looks like fun and your chilli looks full of interesting flavours

    Johannas last blog post..My Personal Vegetarian 100 List

  17. Ben

    Congratulations! That recipe surely sounds delicious, especially with the addition of the chocolate. And a Sara Palin pinata? LOL great thiking :-p

    Bens last blog post..Chiles en nogada

  18. kellypea

    Looks and sounds fab — have never tried chocolate in chili before but would love to try it! The pinata is hilarious. Nice work!

    kellypeas last blog post..Chunky Chili with Squash and a Rant

  19. JennDZ_The LeftoverQueen

    CONGRATS, Helen! Sounds delicious! I could go for a bowl right now! :)

  20. Su-Lin

    Congratulations! Those Scotch Bonnets must have added a lovely fruity heat…mmmmm! Thanks for sharing your recipe!

    Su-Lins last blog post..Fresh Corn Fritters

  21. We Are Never Full

    sarah palin pinata!! GENIUS! i wish i had one tomorrow night. please, get on your knees and pray we never have to see or hear from her again after tomorrow!!!!

  22. Katie

    I just made this and MAN it’s tasty. Can’t wait for tonight when I get to eat it! Hope my friends can handle the spice…

  23. Helen

    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 ;)
    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 ;)
    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!!

  24. Mark

    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.. :)

  25. PB

    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?


  26. Pete Chic

    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!!

  27. Helen

    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 ;)

    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!



  28. Olivia Smith

    i used Stevia extract as a sugar substitute because i am diabetic. Stevia is really sweeter than sucrose.;`’

  29. Neil

    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.

  30. Martin

    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.

  31. Andrew Copley

    This is getting made on new years day, hang-over food bliss!!!

  32. Helen

    Great, let me know how you get on!

  33. Andrew Copley

    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!

  34. Helen

    Amazing. I’m so glad you both enjoyed it so much! Thanks for letting me know.

  35. Emma W

    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)

  36. Simon M

    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….

  37. Helen

    Hi Simon, it’s there now! An updated version coming in my new book – out February but hey, this one is competition winning!

  38. Simon M

    Thanks Helen, that.a supper sorted then :-). ..and a book too. Roll.on Feb!

  39. Deborah

    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 piñata 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–

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