Chilli Con Carne – The Verdict on Heston’s…

You would have to agree that Heston Blumenthal is certainly inspirational. His creations are creative to the max, quite often beyond the ability of your amateur cook. He has obviously been making steps toward ensuring his recipes are a little more accessible to us all and it’s worked because there has certainly been a bit of a craze on testing Heston’s more “common” recipes in our humble kitchens, sans Bunsen burners, dry ice and edible wallpaper of course.

Now we come to the topic of his chilli. In my humble kitchen chilli con carne makes an appearance 2-3 times per month and then sometime more often if leftovers are frozen. It’s a dish that we make often and with ease, although it’s always missing a little something I can’t quite put my finger on. So I decided to give Heston’s recipe a whirl.

I found two varieties of the same recipe when browsing with my friend GOOGLE. There was one on the waitrose site and one provided by Channel 4. The links are below.

I mostly followed the waitrose version as I don’t have a pressure cooker and it was sunday afternoon and I simply wasnt bothered to be messing around with cooking and skinning tomatoes, so I opened a tin of them instead. If you want to prepare your own tomatoes follow the channel 4 link.

Heston has included a spiced butter as an additional additive to his chilli. I’s an interesting little mix, I can see the point of it to an extent however I decided it wasnt entirely necessary for 2 reasons. 1. when I next make chilli I will be taking elements of his recipe and incorporating them into my own, a number of the ingredient in the spiced butter already appear as regular stars in my version. 2. to be honest I try to keep my recipes as tasty yet health conscious as they can be (however I will never take a little oil or butter out if it’s needed, all in moderation, life’s too short to eat salad everyday) so I don’t think the chilli needs big spoons of butter, I think the body of the dish will be quite satisfactory without it, Thank you very much (as long as you add the essential spices to the meat of course).

So before I show you some pics and detail the recipe from the waitrose site, I shall give you my final verdict, ready? ok….It’s good, it’s tasty, it’s certainly worth having a go. I have seen lots of comments from people complaining that it’s time-consuming, Well yes it is a little, however if you want a dish with lots of deep body, and a nice reduced sauce, then yes you need to follow a number of steps, be patient and put the effort in. Plus, if you decide to make it again and again then it wont take you as long as you will know what you’re doing and wont have to keep checking the recipe. Agreed?

As mentioned above, I will take element’s of Heston’s recipe and include them into mine in hopes to perfect a chilli to my liking.

Almost everything you will need for the chilli sauce
There will never be Marmite in my house, always Vegemite for me. Stuff for the spiced butter
The spiced butter- set

Ingredients: serves 4

  • For the chilli:
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 450g Aberdeen Angus minced beef (10% fat)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 green chilli, deseeded and diced
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • Half a bottle red wine (37.5cl)
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 500ml beef stock
  • 400g can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 230g jar Fragata Pimiento Piquillo peppers, drained and roughly chopped
  • For the spiced butter:
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp tomato ketchup
  • ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp Marmite
  • 125g butter, softened to room temperature
  • To serve:
  • 100g soured cream
  • 60g Cheddar cheese, grated
  • Grated zest and juice of 3 limes


  1. Start by making the spiced butter. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and lightly fry the cumin and chilli powder for approximately 1½ minutes. Pour into a bowl and add the rest of the spiced butter ingredients; mix together and once cool, place in the fridge until needed.
  2. Add 3 tbsp olive oil to a large sauce pan and heat over a high heat until smoking hot. Add the mince, in batches if necessary, and cook until evenly browned. Remove and drain the meat. Add a little water to the same pan to deglaze it and tip the water and bits in with the drained meat so none of the flavour is lost.
  3. Turn the heat down to medium and add the remaining olive oil. Add the onions and star anise and cook until the onions begin to colour, then add the garlic and green chilli and cook for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add the tomato purée, stir and cook for another 5 minutes until everything turns a brick red colour. Add the browned meat and juices, pour in the red wine and allow to reduce by two-thirds. Add the tomatoes and stock and simmer over a low heat for at least 1 hour or until it has reduced to a thick sauce consistency.
  5. Fold the beans and chopped red peppers into the chilli and simmer until they are heated through. Stir in 2½ tbsp of the spiced butter for mild-medium heat (or more if you like it hotter). Remove the star anise. Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper and serve with rice.Heston recommends:Put the remaining spiced butter, the lime zest and juice into three separate bowls on the table alongside the cheese and soured cream, so everyone can add their own seasonings to their portion of chilli.Copyright © Heston Blumenthal 2010

My notes: I actually got 5 serves and possibly even 6 if I hadn’t been so greedy. I served mine with soured cream, corn chips, cheddar cheese, and rice with fresh coriander. Oh and I added a red sweet bell pepper as well.


If you decide to try the recipe out, use the links above. If you have made it before, what did you think?

P.s, I do recommend you try Heston’s Perfect Roast chicken. I can honestly say his instructions produced the most wonderful roast chicken and a little guinea fowl for me a few weeks ago.


4 thoughts on “Chilli Con Carne – The Verdict on Heston’s…

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