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Cool Chile Con Carne


Serves 4 -6

Cooks In

Over 60 minutes

In northern Mexico they cook a great dish that may sound familiar... 'carne con chile', literally translating as 'meat with chilli'. It's different to the chilli con carne recipes most of us know, as it doesn't contain beans or tomatoes. Though we agree that tomatoes aren't necessary when you have a red, silky purée of guajillo chillies, we like to add beans to our version to make it a one pot meal. The variations on this dish are endless: use beef, lamb, pork or goat, pinto or black beans and top with anything from a simple squeeze of lime to 'the works' (avocado, chopped fresh green chilli, coriander, creme fraiche, diced onion, grated cheese, lime wedges, shredded lettuce, sliced radishes...).


  1. If you are using dried beans, rinse and soak them overnight.
  2. Pull the stems off guajillo chillies, split down the middle, and shake out the seeds. Heat a dry frying pan over a medium high heat and add the chillies. Using a spatula, press down on each of them, until you smell a nutty aroma – they will turn a lighter brown.
  3. Transfer the toasted chillies to a bowl and pour over enough freshly boiled water to cover them. Place a small saucer on top of the chillies to keep them submerged. Leave to soak for around 15 minutes.
  4. Preheat your oven to 180°C.
  5. Heat a large ovenproof casserole pot over medium high heat, add 1 tbsp of oil or lard and brown the meat in 2 batches, adding another tbsp of oil, then place on a plate. Add the final tbsp of oil and brown the onion and garlic, then add the spice mix and stir. Add the meat and its juices, scraping any good bits from the pan, then remove from the heat. Add the masa harina, smoked sweet paprika, Mexican oregano, chipotle in adobo and cumin, stir and leave to one side.
  6. Transfer the soaked chillies to a jug suitable for a stick blender with around 150ml soaking liquid and blend. Add enough liquid to end up with a smooth puree, then sieve into the pot with the meat. Add enough water to cover the meat (around 700ml) and the rehydrated beans. Put back on the heat, then stir and bring to the boil for a few minutes.
  7. Place the pot in the oven, uncovered and bake for 2½-3 hours or until the meat is meltingly tender.As it bakes a tasty crust will form – every half an hour stir this crust in, adding more water to keep it nice and moist. Use a timer so you don’t forget.
  8. Remove from the oven, season to taste and serve with your choice of sides and toppings, freshly warmed corn tortillas and ice cold beers.

We also have a Carne Con Chile Seasoning Kit with all the ingredients and instructions you will need to recreate this dish.