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Chilli Con Carne translates to “chilli with meat” – but there’s so much more to this tasty and versatile dish than this translation suggests.
This popular meal may have originated far from Australia’s shores, but the chilli con carne I know (and love) is the one that was hugely popular in Australia in the 1980s and 90s.
Easy Chilli Con Carne: Aussie style!
There is much debate about the origins of this versatile dish.
Some argue that beef Chilli Con Carne comes form Mexico, while others point to Spain. The Canary Islands are also mentioned by historians, however the weight of evidence suggests this recipe is actually from Texas.
Wherever it originated, it had arrived in Australia by the 1930s. By the 1940s it had even made it to the Australian Women’s Weekly!
It has continued to be shared and revised over the years, and my recipe is based on several of these shared recipes.
You can buy packet Chilli Con Carne base these days from the supermarket, but it really is so simple to make it from scratch yourself – with a much more delicious result.
Ingredients for Chilli Con Carne
The popularity of this recipe is in part a result of the fact it uses readily available and relatively affordable ingredients.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- olive oil
- beef mince
- green capsicum
- canned tomatoes
- beef stock
- bay leaf
- chilli powder
- dried basil
- salt and pepper
- tinned red kidney beans
- dark chocolate (optional).
Keep scrolling through to the recipe card at the bottom of the post for quantities.
Note that this recipe creates a very mild dish. You’ll need to multiply the quantity of chilli powder as indicated if you like it a little hotter!
Making Chilli Con Carne
Another reason this recipe is so popular is because it’s so easy to follow.
Start by cooking the finely chopped onion and minced garlic over medium heat in a large frypan for a few minutes until the onion is translucent.
Next, add the chopped capsicum and continue cooking for one minute.
Now, add the bay leaf, chilli powder, basil, paprika, salt and pepper, and mince. Cook over med-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the mince is browned and there is no liquid in the pan.
Add the chopped tomatoes and stock. Bring back to the boil and then turn down heat so the mixture is gently simmering.
Simmer for one hour, topping up with water as necessary so the mixture maintains the consistency of bolognese.
When you are ready to serve, add the beans (and optional chocolate) and stir over low heat for a few minutes before serving.
How to serve Chilli Con Carne
As I mentioned above, this dish is incredibly versatile. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- serve with rice
- plate it up surrounded by tortilla chips and topped with sour cream and guacamole
- add it to soft tacos with lettuce, salsa and cheese
- use leftovers as a filling for a toasted sandwich
- enjoy on top of a baked jacket potato along with cheese, sour cream and a sprinkling of coriander and lime juice (my favourite).
Can I freeze Chilli Con Carne?
You sure can! It’s the perfect frozen meal to pull out on those busy weekday nights. Freeze for up to 4 months.
In the fridge, it will last 2-3 days only.
Looking for other easy and delicious family meals?
Chilli Con Carne
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 500 grams beef mince
- 1 green capsicum, chopped
- 400 grams canned tomatoes
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder (for very mild heat, x2,3 or 4 for medium-hot heat)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 400 grams tinned red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 10 grams dark chocolate (2 small squares, optional)
- Cook onion and garlic in oil over low-medium heat in a large frypan for a few minutes until onion is translucent.
- Add bay leaf, chilli powder, basil, paprika, salt and pepper, mince and capsicum and cook over med-high heat until mince is browned and there is no liquid in the pan.
- Add tomatoes and stock. Bring to the boil and then turn down heat so mixture is gently simmering.
- Simmer for one hour, topping up with water as necessary so the mixture maintains the consistency of bolognese.
- When ready to serve, add beans and chocolate and stir over low heat for a few minutes.