Cornbread Topped Chili Con Carne


I love chili, but surprisingly I only had it a few times in my life. I am not a chili aficionado or purist, I don't have a favourite recipe, I don't have any rules about only eating it the next day and/or cooking it in a certain way. It was my first time making chili and I loved it. It was savoury, spicy and, oh, so satisfying. At the beginning I felt like the cornbread topping was overpowering chili, but then after microwaving (yes, I do use microwave from time to time and I am not ashamed to admit it) one of the little pots, the cornbread got steamed a little bit and the combination of soft and a little bit bland cornbread soaked in flavourful chili was excellent. However, the topping can be omitted or even baked separately.

recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson Feast

For about 8-10 servings


  • Onion - 2 medium
  • Garlic - 3 cloves
  • Olive oil - 1.5 tablespoons
  • Red chili flakes - 1 tablespoon (more or less depending on how spicy you want the final product to be)
  • Ground coriander - 1 teaspoon
  • Cardamom pods, crushed - 3
  • Red pepper - 1
  • Ground beef - 700 g
  • Chopped tomatoes - 1 can (540 ml)
  • Ketchup - 4 tablespoons
  • Tomato paste - 4 tablespoons
  • Water - 125 ml
  • Kidney beans - 1/2 can (200-250 ml)
  • Refried Beans with Chipotle - 2 cans (455 ml each can)
  • Cocoa powder - 1 tablespoon
  • Salt, pepper to taste


  • Salt - 3/4 teaspoons
  • Cornmeal - 325 g
  • All-purpose flour - 2 tablespoons
  • Baking powder - 3 teaspoons
  • Kefir or Buttermilk - 375 ml
  • Eggs - 2 
  • Maple syrup - 1 tablespoon
  • Vegetable oil - 2tablespoons 
  • Cheddar, grated - 75 g

For chili
- In a processor, finely mince the onion and garlic. Or mince it by hand.
- Heat the olive oil in a very large pan.
- Fry the onion and garlic until they begin to soften.
- Add the red chili flakes, ground coriander and crushed cardamom pods to the pan, stir.
- Deseed and finely dice the red pepper. Add to the pan.
- Break up the ground beef into the pan and brown it well. Keep turning it to separate while it browns.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, both types of bean, ketchup, tomato paste and water to the meat and onion mixture. Mix well.
- Bring the chili to boil, sprinkle the cocoa powder and stir.
- Reduce the heat and simmer it partially covered for  1.5 hours.
- Careful not to let the chili burn. The mixture has a lot of sugar from tomatoes and ketchup and it tends to burn a little.
- After 1.5 hours the chili can be cooled and frozen or kept in the fridge overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 220C (430F).
- If chili was chilled, then warm it on the stove.
- Pour the chili into a large ovenproof dish.
- Top the chili with cornbread and sprinkle with grated cheddar.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until the cornbread is risen and golden brown.
- Let cool for a few minutes, serve with sour cream, cilantro and avocado.

For cornbread
- Combine the salt, cornmeal, flour and baking powder in a bowl.
- In another large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk/kefir, eggs, maple syrup and vegetable oil.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir to combine to get a wet batter.

This is the Refried Beans that I used. I really liked them in the chili as they were mostly mashed but still some of the beans were whole. The texture worked really well for this recipe

Refried Beans
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Posted on February 17, 2010 and filed under Recipe.