It’s that chilli time of year again! Everyone’s got their own take on the Mexican classic, but here’s a few ingredient additions you may not have thought of

Chilli is a perennial favourite that’s great for feeding the troops. You can cook it up ahead of time (in fact, it tastes better left overnight) or freeze it in batches. But had you thought of modifying it with the addition of some unexpected ingredients?

 

1. Chilli with goats' cheese

For a creamier, milder chilli with a slight tang, throw in a handful of crumbled or diced goats' cheese 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Or you could serve each portion of chilli topped with a round of goats' cheese (rind on), Tabasco sauce for sprinkling and some crusty French bread.

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2. Chilli with baked beans

Some kids love kidney beans, others don’t – but you can keep the healthy bean element in a chilli con carne by substituting baked beans instead. The familiar tomato-sauce flavour is a homely addition, and the beans bulk the dish out as well as keeping it authentic (some chilli recipes include haricot beans – which is the variety used to make baked beans). You could even serve your chilli with mash instead of rice.

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3. Chilli with dark chocolate

The addition of a few squares of bitter, dark chocolate to chilli give an added richness and depth of flavour as well as cutting the fieriness if you’ve been a bit heavy-handed with the chillies. Melt it in at the end of the cooking time and stir it in thoroughly. Your sauce will also look appealingly glossy.

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4. Chilli with avocado

Cool avocado is the perfect foil for a spicy, warming chilli con carne. You can either top each bowl with a dollop of ready-made guacamole from the chilled-foods section, or make a salsa yourself with roughly chopped avocados, ripe tomatoes, coriander, oil and vinegar. This is Mexican food as it was intended to be.

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5. Chilli with crispy bacon

Crispy bacon gives a lovely crunchy contrast to a bowl of soft chilli. Grill rashers of streaky bacon until the fat turns golden and crisp. There’s an art to timing this just right so that you don’t have greasy bits and you’re not left with something as dry as jerky. Then drain the bacon on some kitchen paper and allow it to cool before breaking it into small pieces to sprinkle over your chilli on top of a dollop of soured cream. You can also buy ready-cooked crispy bacon from the chiller shelves in-store.

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6. Chilli with sausagemeat             

Using half-and-half minced pork (or beef) and sausagemeat means you get a slightly rougher-textured dish, and one that allows you to ring the changes, depending on which sausagemeat you use. There are so many varieties of sausage now – from pork with caramelised red onion to chorizo-style to venison to beef with cracked black pepper, and more – that you can serve up a different chilli time and again. 

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