Heston Bloominfool’s Chili Con Carne

You will need…BloominfoolRibs

  • 4 beef short-ribs (chopped)
  • 300g lean beef mince
  • 240g tin of kidney beans
  • 2 romano peppers
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 large leeks
  • 2 large carrots
  • 125g shallots
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 jar of passata and some tomato vines
  • 500ml of Jack Daniel’s
  • ½ bottle of red wine (Syrah)
  • 500ml Just Bouillon beef stock
  • 60g butter, softened to room temperature
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • chilli powder
  • cumin
  • black peppercorns
  • cinnamon stick
  • star anise
  • fresh jalapeno chillis
  • 1 lime
  • ½ tsp Tabasco sauce
  • ½ tsp bourbon
  • ½ tsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp tomato ketchup
  • 20g tomato puree
  • dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • plain flour
  • salt

Day one – brining & preparation


  • 50g salt
  • 500ml water
  • 150ml Jack Daniel’s
  • 4 beef short-ribs (chopped)
  • 1 jar of passata
  • some tomato vines
  • 60g butter, softened to room temperature
  • 10g chilli powder
  • 5g cumin
  • the juice and zest of a lime
  • ½ tsp Tabasco sauce
  • ½ tsp Jack Daniel’s
  • ½ tsp finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ tsp tomato ketchup
  • dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 125g peeled shallots
  • 5g salt
  • extra virgin olive oil

Method – brining the ribsBloominfoolBrining

  1. Combine the water and 50g salt in a storage container and stir from time to time to dissolve the salt.
  2. Meanwhile, tip the Jack Daniel’s into a small pan and slowly bring to the boil.
  3. As soon as it has reached boiling point, carefully ignite the alcohol with a match.
  4. (This removes the harsh, raw notes of the alcohol, but take care because it will go up with a large flame and will burn for some time on the hob.)
  5. Leave to cool completely before adding it to the pan of salted water.
  6. Place the short-ribs in the brine.
  7. Cover and refrigerate for 12 hours.

Infusing the passata

  1. Add the tomato vines to the jar of passata and replace the lid. Store this tomato liquid in the fridge for 12 hours. This will infuse the fresh, raw aroma of tomatoes on the vine into the liquid.

Finishing butterBloominfoolButter

  1. In a small pan heat 10g of the butter with the chilli powder blend and cumin, and fry lightly. Transfer this mixture to a heatproof bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.
  2. Blanch the lime zest briefly in boiling water, refresh in cold water and then mince finely.
  3. Add the zest, lime juice, tabasco, JD, parmesan, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and the remaining 50g of butter to the butter & spice mixture.
  4. Fold together until everything is evenly mixed.
  5. Transfer to a storage container and keep refrigerated.

Shallot confit

  1. Season the shallots with the salt and place in a pan in a single layer. Cover with olive oil.
  2. Cook over a low heat until the onions are completely tender.
  3. Transfer to a storage container and chill in the oil.

Day two – Braising


  • 4 brined beef short ribs
  • plain flour, for dusting
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp of chilli powder
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 large leeks, sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • ½ bottle of red wine (Syrah)
  • 500ml Just Bouillon beef stock
  • reserved passata
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 2cm of cinnamon stick

Method – rinsing

  1. Remove the ribs from the brine and place in a container of cold, fresh water. Allow to soak for six hours, changing the water regularly.


  1. Dust the ribs on all sides with flour. Melt the butter & oil in a large cast-iron casserole over a high heat. When the fat starts smoking add the ribs in batches. Sear on each side (1-2 minutes) until golden-brown. Remove the ribs from the pan and set aside.
  2. Lower the heat to medium. Add the chilli powder to the pan and fry quickly for around two minutes to release the flavour into the oil. Add the onion, leeks and carrots and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the vegetables are lightly caramelised, stirring occasionally.
  3. Pour in the wine and bring to the boil, scraping up all the bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Meanwhile, line the inside of a storage container or pan with a piece of muslin large enough to hold all the vegetables. Once the wine has reduced by two-thirds, tip the vegetables out of the casserole into the lined container. Tie up the muslin and return the ‘bag’ to the casserole, also returning the liquid that has drained into the container.
  4. Preheat the oven to 140C.
  5. Add the short-ribs, plus the stock and passata to the casserole. Cover the dish with aluminium foil, put the lid on, and place in the oven for five hours.
  6. Remove the casserole from the oven and leave to cool. Squeeze the excess juice from the muslin bag, then discard the bag and its contents.
  7. Transfer the short-ribs to a large container.
  8. Skim off, and reserve, any fat from the braising liquid strain through a sieve. Add to the container, covering the short-ribs.
  9. Store the meat in the fridge.

Day three – assembly


  • reserved short-ribs and their braising liquid
  • 2 tbsps reserved fat
  • 300g lean beef mince (preferably dry-aged and free of gristle – ask your butcher)
  • 20g chilli powder
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely diced
  • 25g fresh jalapeno chilli, finely chopped
  • 20g tomato puree
  • 300g Jack Daniel’s
  • 240g tin of kidney beans
  • salt
  • 2 romano peppers
  • extra virgin olive oil, as needed
  • reserved shallot confit, drained of oil and cut into quarters
  • 1 fresh jalapeno chilli, finely diced
  • finishing butter, as needed

Method – shredding the ribsBloominfoolShredding

  1. Remove the short-ribs from the gelatinous liquid, brushing off any excess jelly, and place on a chopping board. Remove the meat from the bone and discard both the bones and any heavy connective tissue.
  2. Using a fork, shred the meat into long pieces where it wants to separate naturally.
  3. Return this shredded meat to the gelatinous liquid, submerging it to keep it from drying out. Store in the fridge until needed.

Assembling the chilliBloominfoolAssemble

  1. Place a large pan over a high heat until hot. Add the reserved fat. When smoking hot, add the mince in batches and cook until evenly browned. Between batches deglaze with water as needed and save all of the bits and liquid that is collected.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mince to a bowl or plate, leaving the fat in the pan. Deglaze the pan with a little water to remove the bits of meat stuck to the bottom. Add these bits to your browned meat.
  3. Turn the heat down to medium and add a bit more oil. Add the chilli powder and fry briefly, adding more oil if needed.
  4. Crush the star anise and bag it in a square of muslin. Add this and the onion to the pan and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the onion is soft and caramelised.
  5. Turn the heat down to low, then add the garlic, carrot and jalapeno chilli. Cook for about ten minutes, or until soft.
  6. Add the tomato puree and cook until it becomes a deep brick-red colour.
  7. Deglaze the pan by turning the temperature up to medium and adding the Jack Daniel’s. (Be careful as the whiskey will flame.) Bring it to the boil, then scrape up all the bits stuck to the bottom.
  8. Add the browned mince plus the short-ribs and their liquid to the pan. Stir in the kidney beans and simmer over a low heat for 40 minutes.
  9. When the chilli is cooked, adjust the seasoning to taste with salt. At this point it is best to cool and store the chilli, and finish it later that day or the next. However, you can continue now if you wish.

Roasting the peppersBloominfoolPeppers

  1. Meanwhile, preheat the grill until very hot.
  2. Core and halve the romano peppers, and remove the white pith and seeds.
  3. Put the pepper halves, skin side up, on a grill pan and brush them with olive oil. Place under the hot grill and leave them until they are black.
  4. Remove the blackened peppers from the grill and wrap immediately in cling film. Set aside for ten minutes.
  5. Unwrap the peppers and peel off the blackened skin.
  6. Cut the peeled peppers into 1cm cubes and store in the fridge until needed.

Finishing the chilliBloominfoolFinishing

  1. If you have allowed your chilli to cool, reheat it over a low heat. Adjust the seasoning with salt and the chilli powder if necessary.
  2. Add the shallot confit, roasted peppers and diced jalapeno. Fold together, being careful not to break the delicate beans.
  3. Fold in the finishing butter to give a fresh acidity and glossy sheen to the sauce. The amount that you add depends on your personal preference.


No doubtBloominfoolConclusion about it, this chilli tastes good. It has a complex mixture of flavours and is very rich. It was well worth seeking out the ancho and chipotle chiles. It’s quite different from the usual chilli I would make. In true Tex-Mex style you can stand a spoon up in it.

However, if I was making it again there are a few things that I would do differently…

  • Four beef short ribs was far too much when cooking for two! I could barely get it all in our biggest pans. The ribs produced 778g of shredded meat and the finished chilli was enough for about 8 portions. I’d already halved this from Heston’s recipe and could have halved it again and still made enough for 2 nights.
  • I’m not sure what the point of brining the ribs is. Maybe next time I’ll skip this step and see what difference it makes. I also don’t think there is much point in infusing the pasata with tomato vines
  • There is a lot off fat that comes out of the short ribs and I had to skim a lot of oil off the top at the end. Under these circumstances adding “finishing butter” seems mad – I would rather just add the flavourings that were in the finishing butter without the butter (and they could go in sooner).
  • There’s not enough cumin in this recipe for my liking – although I think I did mess up and add even less than the recipe calls for 😦
  • The star anise flavour is a bit powerful. I think this should come out sooner – before or during the 40 minute simmer.
  • I didn’t like having the chilli powder frying with the onions for 10 minutes. I’m sure this doesn’t do the chilli powder any favours. I think it’s better to add the chilli powder (and cumin) after frying the veg and only let it fry for a few seconds before putting everything else back in.
  • Adding 300ml of Jack Daniel’s turned out to be quite dangerous – the flames melted the plastic covering the lights in the extractor fan above the stove.

See also

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