Photo by Jim Norton


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Basic Cottage Chili con Carne


This gang-pleasing meal assembles in minutes; then just leave it to simmer away. As with all chilis, adjust the spices to suit your taste.

  • Serves: 6


  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil (30 ml)
  • 2 lbs ground beef (1 kg)
  • 2  medium onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1-3 tbsp chili powder (15-45 ml) (see Tips)
  • 1/2-1 tsp hot pepper flakes, optional (2-5 ml)
  • 1 can (5.5 oz/156 ml) tomato paste
  • 1 can (28 oz/796 ml) plum tomatoes with juice, chopped
  • 1 cup beef stock, or half stock and 
half beer (250 ml
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 can (19 oz/540 ml) kidney beans, rinsed and drained


  1. 1. In a large, heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Brown beef, breaking up with a wooden spoon. Using a slotted spoon, transfer meat to a bowl. Reserve about 2 tbsp (30 ml) fat in the pot and discard the rest.
  2. 2. In the same pot, sauté onions until soft. Add garlic, chili powder, hot pepper flakes, if using, and tomato paste. Cook, stirring constantly, 1-2 minutes.
  3. 3. Return meat to pot with tomatoes (and their juice) and stock, and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes. Stir in kidney beans and heat through.
  4. 4. Serve topped with your favourite extras: sour cream, grated mild Cheddar cheese, or chopped fresh tomato, green pepper, green onion, or fresh coriander
  5. Tips: Think outside the bowl. You can serve chili with cornbread or warm tortillas, spoon it on hot dogs, or pile it on baked potatoes. Spread chili over-top corn or tortilla chips (with cheese, olives, and pickled jalapenos if you like nachos), even using—gasp!—the chip bag as your bowl. You can omit the beans, or replace them with potato chunks for a spicy chili hash (which is terrific topped with fried eggs). Substitute your own homemade chili powder: For this recipe, I mix 1–3 tbsp (15-45 ml) New Mexican red chile powder (a pure ground chile that is worth the hunt) with 1 tsp (5 ml) each of freshly ground cumin, paprika, and dried oregan.

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Jane Rodmell