Chilli Bol Stew

This is a family favourite and the grand kids love it. Basically a combined Chilli con carne & Bolognese, which has a sweet, tangy taste. You can have fun with this, try different things and find a combination that you like; make it your own 🙂

I start with a very authentic Bol/Ragu (see my recipe) and then basically add chilli powder and other stuff 🙂


  • 2 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil – Olive Oil is OK for cooking temperature below 190 deg C.
  • * 6 rashers of streaky ‘pancetta’ bacon, chopped (I often forget to get this but it does make a difference)
  • 2 large onions, chopped fine. I prefer Red onion.
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed (to suit your taste)
  • 2 carrots, chopped small or thin slices if small and sweet.
  • 2 Stick of celery or more if finely chopped, don’t forget the leaves!
  • 750g minced beef (should get 2 or 3 meals for 2 people) (you can use diced beef if you prefer)
  • * 2 large glasses of red wine – what a waste – just drink it! 🙂
  • 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
  • Dried parsley, Basil, Rosemary (to taste) Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • * 1 beef stock cube (optional)
  • teaspoon of horse radish (great for bringing out the flavours and adding umami)
  • 2 teaspoons of cranberry sauce.
  • 3 teaspoon Mild Chilli powder, or whatever Chilli powder you like.
  • 1 teaspoon Ginger paste or powder.
  • 1 400g can Red kidney beans
  • 1 400g can White Kidney beans (Cannellini) or Butter/Broad beans
  • optional 2 teaspoon Paprika.
  • optional finely chopped peppers (red/yellow)
  • 2 tablespoon peas ( I use frozen petite pois)
  • 2 tablespoon sweet corn (frozen is fine)
  • optional 1 medium sweet potato – diced.
  • * Heaped Tablespoon Sultana (adds sweetness)
  • * Heaped Tablespoon Raisins (adds sweetness)
  • * Brown sugar unless using sultanas/ raisins
  • optional finely sliced mushroom (adds a bit more umami)
  • optional I teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon

METHOD – I use.

In a large pan(I use a 4 Litre pan a.k.a. the Cauldron) start by making a soffritto (slow fried) by adding the oil along with the finely chopped celery, onion, carrot and garlic; cook on a low heat until soft, some people might find cooking to a golden colour works for them as it can create a host of different flavours. see Maillard reaction.

* You can add a little water to the “soffritto” after they are well coated with oil, pop the lid on the pan and leave to simmer for 10/15 mins. Remove lid to let the water boil off, the veg should now be soft.

While the “soffritto” is cooking, use a separate pan and start to “brown” the meat. I quite often don’t bother with browning as it can sometimes make the minced beef tough. Most often I just brown one side, leaving most of the mince or diced beef “raw”. I find that normal 23% fat mince works best, the lean stuff doesn’t taste as good.

Add the herbs of your choice to the soffritto but try not overpower it with too much herbs, add the Chilli powder, Ginger, Horse radish and cranberry, continue cooking for a few minutes to let the flavours infuse.

Combine the meat & soffritto, give it a good stir, let it simmer for a few minutes then add the tomatoes, peas, corn and chopped peppers, mushroom and beans. Bring back to boil and simmer with lid on for maybe 20 mins or so. Do a taste test, add more salt or chilli powder etc to taste. You’re looking for a nice spicy / peppery flavour.

Now add the sultana and/or raisins and the sweet potato, simmer again for 10 mins or so. Taste it, you’re looking for a sweet tangy taste with a spicy hit at the back of the throat. Add soft brown sugar if you want extra sweetness or more Chilli powder. I lean toward sweetness so it’s child friendly!

Leave to simmer for at least 90 mins, stirring occasionally. I tend to simmer it for several hours and quite often leave it to cool and then cook again the following day for a few hours.

It’s basically a Stew with attitude!


  • Boiled rice – white or brown, both work well but brown rice is very “filling”.
  • Pasta – Penne, Spirals, shells etc. Combine before serving to let the Pasta absorb the flavours.
  • Jacket Potato (my favourite)
  • Garlic bread – not waistline friendly 🙂
  • Salad – Spinach, Water Cress, Rocket, Crisp lettuce.

The above recipe is just a guide, add or remove stuff to your taste. Have fun, toss something in, taste and toss something else in. If you get the sweet/spicy taste right, you won’t have any left overs 🙂