I do love a good chilli. Actualy, I’ll happily eat bad chilli if somebody else is cooking, but life’s too short to make bad chilli. I ran across a write up claiming to be The Best Chilli Ever over on Serious Eats which had some interesting ideas in it. Science behind chunks of meat verses mince, how to avoid the powdery spice mouth feel etc etc.

Good timing, because in this months meat box there was an interesting cut of meat, a slice of shin, taken perendicular to the bone, complete with bone and marrow.

I had a good scratch though the cupboards and ended up finding a single large dried and smoked chilli (Ancho maybe) and some chopotle chillis I made with a friend a couple of years ago. The pan browning and steeping seemed to really bring out the flavours.

Whilst choosing my spies I took up Serious Eats hints and included some star anice and clove, as well as the usual cumin. I’ve always enjoyed some black pepper in chilli too, bringing a dry heat to the party.

You will need

  • About a kilo of beef shin, ideally with the bone
  • A couple of chillis, ideally something smoked and something hot
  • A heaped teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • A pinch of blck pepper corns
  • Half a teaspoon of coriandor seed
  • A chunk of star anise
  • A clove
  • A handful of tiny tomatos
  • A tablespoon of tomato puree
  • Black beans (I used up half a tin I had left)


  1. Chop the chillis and stick them in a hot pan for a few minutes until they start to scorch
  2. Grind them as much as possible. The thin chillis didn’t really grind much for me
  3. Mix the chillis into half a cup of hot water and leave to soak.
  4. Toast the other spices in the same way, grind and add to the chilli/water slurry
  5. Clean the pan if you’re reusing it
  6. Pop a teaspoon of sunflower oil into the pan and brown the beef on both sides so it’s got a great colour
  7. Lift out the mean and stick the tomatoes in. Keep them moving but allow them to blacken on the outside in a few spots
  8. Now that the spices and chilli have soaked for a while give them another go to grind, you’re aiming for a smooth consistency
  9. Add the spice slurry to the pan with the tomatoes, add the puree and the black beans, bring to the boil for a minute or two
  10. (The step I missed) Snip though the meat round the edges so there’s not a band of fat or skin which will contract and pull the meat up out of the liquid when it cooks
  11. Stick everything in the slow cooker for a few hours
  12. Poke the marrow out of the bone, give it all a stir
  13. Cook for another couple of hours
  14. Pull the meat apart with forks and serve


We ate with guacamole and baked tortilla chips

Chilis Spice mix Chillis Toasting First round of grinding Toasting the spices Browning Burning the skins Second grinding Bringing it all together Before During, note the contraction Done! Money shot Trying to get a photo showing the texture of chunks in a velvety sauce