Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Chilli Con Carne with Cornbread Topping

Lots of you liked the sound of the Chilli Con Carne with Cornbread Topping that I included in last week's meal plan. It's a very long standing family favourite evolved over the years from a combination of the classic "student chilli" of our long-ago Uni days (oh dear, I've just remembered the first time I made chilli...... I misread "2 tsp chilli seasoning" and used two TABLESPOONS of pure chilli powder....) and a turkey tamale pie that featured in an old Good Housekeeping book. But after years of tweaks and adaptations, I can safely say it's my own.

Ingredients (to serve 4)

Chilli base

400g minced beef
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 can red kidney beans
1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
1 level teaspoon each of dried oregano and ground cumin
chilli powder - between ½ and 2 level teaspoon depending on how hot you like it
2 tablespoons tomato purée
Seasoning, and/or an optional teaspoon of Bovril or beef stock concentrate

Place the mince in a non-stick flameproof casserole and start to heat gently until the fat starts to run out, then add the onion and increase the heat. Fry for a few minutes to brown the mince and slightly soften the onion. Stir in cumin and chilli and cook for a minute, then blend in flour and oregano and mix well. Add the tomatoes plus one empty tomato tin full of cold water, mix everything well and bring to the boil. Add beans, tomato purée and seasoning, then cook gently on the hob or in a slow oven for around 2 hours. (You can, of course, use your own favourite chilli recipe for this but do make sure it is thick or the topping will sink)

After 2 hours, heat the oven to 200 C, Fan 180 (400 F, gas 6) - or turn up the heat if the chilli was cooking in the oven. If you wish, turn the chilli into a different ovenproof dish, one deep  enough for the chilli plus a deep layer of topping.


200g cornmeal (polenta)
50g plain flour
1 level tablespoon (yes, I know it sounds like a lot...... trust me, it works) baking powder
½ level teaspoon salt
200 ml milk
2 eggs
4 tablespoons sunflower or rapeseed oil

Mix all the dry ingredients in one bowl, beat all the wet ingredients together in another bowl, then gently fold the wet into the dry.

Spread over the top of the chilli and place in the oven. Bake for around 30 minutes until risen and browned - test that there is no uncooked batter left by piercing the centre with a skewer or sharp knife. If any wet mixture clings to it, reduce the heat to prevent over browning and cook for a few minutes longer.

Serve with salad, or a green vegetable, or salsa, sour cream and guacamole. Or if you are greedy like us, all of the above!

When I made it last week, I only used half of the chilli but forgot to halve the topping ingredients so the chilli looks a bit swamped in this photo:


  1. Brilliant, this is one I definitely want to try :O)

  2. Sounds really good. Thanks for the recipe!
    Lea's Menagerie

  3. Today I've bought all the ingredients and am looking forward to having a go :O)


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