Valentine Warner's Carne con Chile

Photo - Jonathan Lovekin

Thanks to Valentine Warner for allowing us to reproduce his recipe here. For more of his recipes visit

Recipe taken from "The Good Table" which will be published in paperback in Autumn 2013. His brand new book will be published in Spring 2014.



Serves: 6–8
Preparation time: 20 minutes plus soaking time
Cooking time: 2 hours

You will need

5 ancho chiles (or dried chiles)

200ml hot water

4 tablespoons cider vinegar or lime juice

4 chipotle chiles (smoked jalapeños)

40g lard

2 medium red onions, finely chopped

A fistful of coriander stalks (about 10g), roughly chopped

1 tsp cumin seeds

½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground cloves

1 level tsp ground white pepper

1 tsp dried oregano

4 small garlic cloves, finely sliced

500g beef tomatoes (about 2 or 3)

2 tsp soft light brown sugar

1½ tsp flaked sea salt

1kg chuck steak, cut into very large square chunks

1 tsp cocoa powder

150ml soured cream

To serve: warmed soft corn tortillas



I prefer the reverse wording, carne con chile, or meat with chile. It sounds as if you’ve got subtler spicing that suits the beef, rather than the firey, wet mince that I associate with British pubs.


Method 1. Rip up the ancho chiles and put them in a dry frying pan over a medium–low heat. Tumble and toss them often, as they must not burn but rather toast, and no smoke should be seen coming from them or the frying pan is far too hot. They will change from a red colour to take on a more tobacco hue and their smell will give a rich, full, nutty headiness – really get your nose right down into them to check. All this will take about five attentive minutes.

2. Take the frying pan off the heat, pour over the water and vinegar or lime juice and crumble in the chipotle chiles. Leave the chiles to soak for 30 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 150°C/gas mark 3½. Melt the lard in a heavy flameproof casserole and in it fry the onions with the coriander stalks, spices and oregano over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is golden and soft, adding the garlic for the last two minutes. Remove from the heat.

4. Cut the cores from the tomatoes and slash a criss-cross in the bottoms with a knife. Steep the tomatoes in just-boiled water and leave them there for a minute or so. Discard the water, peel the tomatoes and quarter. Take out the pulp and put it in a sieve over a blender.

5. Use a spoon to push through the juice from the seeds, then chuck the seeds. Put the tomato flesh into the blender. Drop in the chipotle chiles and their soaking liquid. Blitz everything until totally smooth. Press the liquid through a clean sieve into a bowl, leaving behind only the finely ground chile skin. Pour the bowlful back into the blender and add the cooked onions and garlic along with the sugar and salt. Blitz again.

6. Put the beef in the casserole and pour over the chile purée. Stir well. Cook in the oven for two hours until very soft and tender. Transfer the dish to the hob over a low heat and stir in the cocoa powder. Cook gently for a couple of minutes. Stir in the soured cream and serve with soft warmed corn tortillas and cold beer with fresh lime juice squeezed into it.



I'd be very wary adding lime juice at the start of the recipe - it can go very bitter and unpleasant - I prefer to just add it near the end.
I also don't like coriander in Chilli, or chocolate either for that matter, but that's just my personal taste.


Fresh Coriander? No, no, no, no!
I agree with TMG. Lime at the end.
It also looks really oily. 

By noxskuses

Agree with both of you, however, this is a "carne con chilli" recipe which is somewhat different to what we're used to. Wink

By Head Honcho

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