Where There's Smoky Chunky Chilli There's Fire

IMGP3177 This Chilli is so smoky that for 24 years, it's been living next door to Alice. Don't let that middle-of-the road, easy-listening 70's Soft-Rock Ballad analogy fool you, though... where there's smoke there's fire, and this is no exception! This smoky-fiery chilli will make your nose run and your forehead sweat. It's illegal to wear a wooly jumper whilst eating this dish.

I've often said that every man should have a robust chilli in his repertoire, so I guess it's somewhat surprising that after over 25 recipes, one hasn't featured yet on TidyMunch. The honest truth of the matter is that until now, I haven't had such a chilli! With the weather turning bitterly colder this week, I was determined to fix this with a proper winter warmer. And I've certainly achieved that!

Don't worry - you can always adjust the spices if you prefer a little less heat - the smokiness still makes this a hearty and tasty plateful for cold winter nights!


2tbsp coconut oil

800g stewing steak

1 pack smoked bacon (about 6-8 rashers)

1 large onion, diced

2tsp chipotle chilli paste

3tsp garlic puree

5tbsp liquid smoke (optional)

1 beef stock cube

200ml red wine

3 birdseye chillies (deseeded and chopped finely)

2 red jalapeno peppers (deseeded and chopped finely)

2tbsp hot chilli powder

1tbsp ground cumin

1tsp dried oregano

1tsp salt

1/2 tsp white pepper

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

500ml beef stock

1 can chopped tomatoes

2tbsp polenta

1/2 a yellow pepper, sliced

20g dark chocolate, finely grated

This should comfortably serve four, but me being greedy as usual ate half of it to myself and will have the other half tomorrow. I expect the flavours to have developed further, and it to be even more fiery by then!

It's become somewhat customary to serve Chilli with rice, but I can't resist serving it piled high on some chips, with cheese and sour cream on top!


1. Get your prep on. Dice the beef into 1cm cubes, trimming off the visible fat as you go. Do the same with the bacon.

2. Heat the oil on high, then brown the beef well on all sides.

3. Once the beef is well browned, chuck in the onions and bacon. Turn the heat down to medium, and cook for another 5 minutes or so, stirring as you go.

4. Add in the chipotle paste, garlic, and liquid smoke. Cook for another 5 minutes.

5. Crumble in the stock cube, stir it through, and then add in the wine. Let it bubble away for another 5 minutes, stirring as necessary.

6. Chuck in all other ingredients, apart from the polenta and yellow pepper, and bring to the boil.

7. Turn the heat down to low, cover, and leave to simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.

8. After the hour, stir in the polenta and throw in the yellow pepper. Leave uncovered for another hour or so, to thicken up. Remember to stir regularly to stop it from sticking to the bottom.

9. Once the hour is nearly up, add the chocolate, stir through, and serve however you like!


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Tidy Savings

Some of the specialist products couldn't be found in some of the supermarkets (in fact Liquid Smoke couldn't be found in any) so I've excluded those from the costings. Similarly, as coconut oil is so expensive in ASDA and Sainsbury's, that's gone too.

Interestingly, 1st and 2nd place remain the same anyway, with just a switch in 3rd and 4th.

So today, first place goes to Tesco at £20.28 with ASDA very close behind at £20.70.  Not so close, but undoubtedly pleased with themselves, will be Sainsbury's at £23.86 while Morrisons uncharacteristically bring up the rear at a pricey £24.35

Tidy Tweaks

The most obvious tweak is to adjust the spice and seasoning to your taste - I like it hot, but I'm not one of those people who likes their food so spicy it hurts. This was just right for me, but if I was making it for Nell I'd tone it down a bit... for Peter I'd leave the seeds in from the chillies. Either way, the sour cream helps takes the edge off... use low fat fromage frais for a diet option.

I looked at an awful lot of recipes before I came up with this hybrid. Most people make their chilli with mince, but I prefer this meatier option. I also saw one with Chorizo in, which we all know I'll try before too long! I didn't want to be too predictable, though, so left it out for this version. To be fair, it was this that made me think of adding the smoked bacon, which in turn led me to add the liquid smoke. It's not particularly easy to find liquid smoke, though, so feel free to leave that out.

When I made this, I added the yellow pepper with the stock and tomatoes, but it disappeared to nothing, so I'd recommend adding it only for the last hour. I also learned to grate the chocolate separately, and not directly into the chilli... steam is not your friend, unless you want the chocolate to melt and stick to the underside of the grater instead of dropping into the pan!

How you serve this is up to you. Like I said, I love it served with chips, but rice is tasty. You could use it to top nachos (but be careful not to add too much liquid!) or even just serve it in a bowl with some nice crusty bread on the side, to dip in and mop up the sauce!