Monday 14 January 2013

In Search of Perfection... Heston's (Healthy) Chilli

In Search of Perfection... Heston's (Healthy) Chilli
A few months ago my husband made Heston Blumenthal's chilli from his 'In Search of Perfection' series. I have to say that he wasn't wrong. As you would expect, Heston concocted one mind blowing dish packed full of flavour. We made it again on New Year's Eve, but this time teamed it up with my jalapeno cornbread bundt. The combination was so good it got promoted into the 'what could you just eat?' part of my memory bank.

I could eat it every day of my life, but I am sure it would kill me. The original recipe uses up to 250g of butter. You heard. This weekend we set about making a healthier version that we would still enjoy without the fear of a heart attack. Some of the naughties have stayed to ensure it has the same depth of flavour, but unnecessary fats have gone.

This dish divides into six large portions, but I'm sure most mere mortals could divide this into seven or perhaps even eight servings, bringing the calorie amount down even further. Allow a good three hours to make this to ensure the flavours can develop slowly. This is also much quicker to make than the original, which takes about six hours...


Spice Paste
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp Tomato Ketchup
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp Marmite
  • 2 tbsp hot Peri Peri sauce
  • 900g lean minced beef
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 shallots - diced
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 large carrot - diced
  • 3 cloves garlic - finely chopped
  • 2 green chillies - deseeded and diced
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 750ml red wine (yes, that's a whole bottle...)
  • 4 medium tomatoes - roughly chopped
  • 2 x 400g tin kidney beans
  • 2 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 500ml beef stock
  • 3 red peppers - deseeded and chopped
  • Seasoning
  • Zest of 2 limes
  • Juice of 1 lime

  1. In a small bowl or ramekin, mix together the ingredients marked 'spice paste' above. Put to one side.
  2. Heat a large, wide bottomed pan or casserole to 'inferno' level and then brown off the mince.
  3. Once it is browned, drain into a large bowl and set aside. Disgard the fatty water...
  4. Deglaze your pan with a little water then tip that into the mince.
  5. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in the pan, then add the diced shallots and star anise. Cook until soft and browning slightly - about 10 minutes.
  6. Add the diced carrot, garlic and chilli. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the carrot softens.
  7. Add the tomato purée and cook for another 5 minutes.
  8. Pour in the wine and reduce by two thirds. When it's ready it will look thicker in texture than before. 
  9. Remove the star anise (you don't want to bite into one of those blighters...) 
  10. Stir in the spice paste from earlier, the mince, tomatoes, tinned tomatoes, kidney beans, stock and peppers, then leave to simmer gently with no lid for two hours. There should be no pools of liquid and it should look visibly thick. If it's not, give it a bit longer.
  11. At the end add the seasoning (to taste), the zest and the juice.

All done! Kick back and enjoy a guilt free version of perfection...

Nutritional Information
Per Serving
 (based on six)

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Nutritional information worked out using MyFitnessPal.


  1. Looks delicious, iblove chilli

  2. Marmite in the seasoning! Inspired! Will definitely be taking some inspiration from this and adapting my own go-to recipe...
    Great blog - a gem of a find :)

  3. I made a heston chilli recipe a way back and blogged about it. The version I had was a lot more complicated with (in theory) the need for a pressure cooker. It was lovely and I think the most useful thing in the dish was the spice butter because it meant you could spice the chilli to your own taste toward the end of cooking and freeze what you didn't use. And yes, the marmite really worked for me too!

    1. I replaced the spice butter with the spice mix above. Still tastes amazing!

  4. I was put off that book by the long cooking times and I sold it on Ebay. Have you made anything else from it?

    1. No, just this! This was the one from the programme that I was craving...

  5. It looks and sounds delicious! I'm not sure I could sacrifice an entire bottle of red wine though...

    1. It does split into a lot of portions though!


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